The past few years have seen multiple mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications industry.

I would be hard pressed to name one that hasn’t had some form of M&A action, buying or merging with a competitor generally focused on B2B services (AT&T being a bit of an anomaly, their acquisition strategy seems more focused on content and the consumer market).

I’ve seen these happen, over the decades, and generally see a stronger more capable company emerge…at some point…in time…after much, well, pain.

For a long time now, I’ve called it the Tele-Merge Flu. It’s cyclical, and I’ve seen a few iterations over my career. They all seem to have a bit of the following:

  • Disparate systems, painfully complicated to begin with, will now be merged (or attempted to be merged) with generally a Frankenstein’s Monster result, a broken shambling, groaning thing, with the local residents always on the verge of storming the castle with torches and pitchforks.
  • Legacy employees, often identifying their allegiance to either the M or the A in the M&A equation, by (and no kidding, this is a thing) the primary color of their legacy companies logo. “Well, Legacy Purple didn’t require this sort of nonsense, and now Orange is screwing up the ______ ¬†for my team/the company/the client.”
  • Process and procedural changes that can take what was previously the best product on the market, and make it so difficult to buy and/or implement, that inferior products are picked.
  • A period of fear, with employees feeling lost/in danger/etc. This is also often compounded with the above process/procedural nightmares, creating a sense within the employee base that they just can’t get anything done (often true and almost justifiable). They go limp, and stop trying.
As mentioned, the emerging company typically gains some positive components (although the scrappy, smaller, nimble companies that get bought lose all of that). The industry becomes a bit more healthy, with the players not so spread thin and quick to commoditize themselves. Prices go up, but that’s often a good thing, no industry can race to the bottom and stay a good partner. Certain innovation may slow down, but the technology in place today can take a breather, and become a better version of its true potential.
But…one thing is for certain, the flu-like symptoms are easy to diagnose, and are as predictable as me getting a head-cold in the last few weeks of October.
Sadly, there is no cure, and minimal symptom relief options. Well, a good consultant and outsourcing partner is definitely a great option, so there’s that. Let’s just say that the Doctor is IN*, and Flu Season is on its way.
* John Anderson is not an actual Doctor, and any reference to such should be taken as a humorous jest, this should be clear based on the analogy-rich, and generally goofy flow of this blog post. Also, John Anderson admits that the last paragraph or so was horribly self-indulgent, and an awful example of shameless self-promotion, made only worse by a foonote filled with Illeisms**.
**An illeism is the act of referring to ones self in the third person, instead of the first person. John Anderson understands that by using the word “illeism”, and not just saying “Referring to ones self in the third person”, only to then add another layer of footnote explaining the arcane word, is also horribly self indulgent, bordering on hubris. If you’ve read this far, I’m surprised you could have, given the crippling eye-rolls that should be occurring by now.