Saturday, 20 December 2008

Rounding up the Bellwethers

(By Richard Holway) I guess I have something in common with Leonard Cohen in that we are both known for being a bit gloomy! But Cohen must now have a smile on his face, seeing his songs at #1 and #2 in the Christmas Hit Parade.

I think the SITS industry should allow itself a little cheerfulness too. Looking at the Bellwethers I have reported below and having just finished a round of meetings with the CEOs of the leading SITS companies operating in the UK, most of them are looking forward to continued growth in 2009. Those with well established BPO or ITO businesses should continue to do well. Indeed, some will benefit from the current round of cost cutting in BOTH the public and private sectors. Even software companies which have looked after their customers well should see less defections and more revenue of the Make-do-and-Mend variety which (hopefully) will go a long way to make up for a downturn in new-product-to-new-customers business.

Indeed, to reuse Holway’s oldest theme, 2009 will be a year when ‘Boring’ companies should do well. Mature management, established business models and/or products, strong recurring revenues, loyal customers, partner and employees, strong cashflow, positive balance sheets. These attributes rarely make the headlines but will be the key differentiator in 2009.

On top of that, 2009 will present more and better ‘opportunities’ than any seen in the last 10 years. Wonderful M&A opportunities for those with the resources available. Great investment opportunities. Significant technological change. (Cloud, Holway’s ‘MobiTop’, ultrafast broadband – both fixed and mobile, ultra cheap mobile devices etc)

Of course, if you are stuck with huge debt, lots of old baggage and an inability to even want to change, then 2009 is going to be even worse than you fear. Indeed, could well be terminal. Oh dear, I'm slipping back into Leonard Cohen mode again...

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