"Catching the Wave" in the Perfect Storm


Although we do not see ourselves as analysts, we have mentioned a few times and predicted what we have described as ‘the perfect storm’ approaching for this technology sector. It will not be dependent upon on any new, disruptive technology; rather, it will be part of an evolution and convergence of technologies and changing demand amongst users.  There will be some who will ride the wave and there will be others, stuck in the past, who will be shipwrecked on the rocks of the terra firma they cling to. Company leaders wishing to fully leverage the benefits of the approaching, perfect storm in the information market place, will require flexibility of mind, clarity of communication, focussed action and some objective analysis.  This "Brave New World" will undoubtedly prove  an opportunity for some and a danger to many others.

Clearer communication than is typical in this sector will now be a prerequisite.  Just look at some of those proudly presented diagrams that leave in their wake more scratching of heads than enlightenment, with their multicolour, multilevel boxes, arrows, obligatory clouds and triangles.  The positive change that is beginning to happen in the area of information management is a paradigm shift that first needs to happen in the minds of the solution architects, the business strategists and the marketing guru's.

In order to fully benefit from change, we first need to embrace and accept the fact that, as human beings, we are typically, quite reluctant to leave behind the habits that have served us well in the past. To really reach out and grasp the future, we first have to let go of the past with the other hand. This is not always so easy.  We also do not typically welcome elements of the unknown which a new future direction will ultimately hold; we have a lack of natural aptitude for new habits and a strong propensity to hang onto what is familiar, what we know and have experienced many times.

A fear of the unfamiliar or the new is something I often encounter in my M&A dealings when talking to many organisations in this sector about possible acquisitions.  Even when they know and admit that they have to change as an organisation because they are facing a diminishing market size, increased competition and reducing margins, they struggle to accommodate the paradigm shift that must first take place in their own minds.

Niche software vendors of the past have now been overtaken by the much larger software vendors with their multi-functionality and capability offerings. As many of these struggling companies fight to survive, the lack of flexibility in their thinking causes a number of identifiable behaviour patterns - avoidance, delay, displacement and sometimes, even denial.  I have even witnessed this fossilised way of thinking manifest itself in ever more complex diagrams, explanations and indecipherable communication that ultimately, leads to a "no decision" as they try to present more complex layers of business models built upon the shaky foundations of their past thinking.

 Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote:

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

The world is changing quickly and that change is accelerating along with the "technology disruption" that affects all of our lives in ever more subtle ways. However, ultimately, we are dependent on clear, structured thinking and clear communication. The ability to communicate well is not confined to our external interactions but is also important for those which occur internally, within our own organisations.  Once we have clarity, we need to share our thinking internally and externally in the clearest and simplest way.

The digital world and the revolution of social media networks means that broadcasting a message has never been faster or more possible - but is it easier?  Mark Twain wrote over a hundred years ago, "I am sorry to have written such a long letter but I did not have time to write a short one".  

The delivery mechanisms for our messages have changed beyond recognition but the challenge of clear, concise and simple communication remains just the same.

On that note, I should probably finish..

28 November 2013Boss M&A Whispers