In reviewing the DeepDive Equity Research report for Q1, it’s clear that this year’s first quarter was a bit of a disaster for the services industry. Contrary to industry expectations at the beginning of the year, the report evidences that growth is decelerating. What happened to the expectations?
This report heralds what I’ve been blogging about for more than a year – the services industry has been rapidly moving to a mature state and is now at an inflection point. The results: slower growth, pressure on pricing and margins plus accelerated industry consolidation. In the Q1 report, Rod Bourgeois, founder and head of research and consulting at DeepDive Equity Research, presents analysis of the quarter’s results for 15 leading service providers.
The report (“IT Services: Whoa! What Happened in Q1 Results of 15 Services Firms”) is well worth reading. It reveals that nine of the 15 providers posted bad earnings results, two had mixed results and two were incomplete. Only two providers posted good earnings results. Only two – and these results are despite the accelerated GDP and more favorable economies in North America and the UK.
A caveat: as Rod points out, one quarter doesn’t make a trend. But it is troubling. And it certainly fits with my thesis of a rapidly maturing market.
What are the implications?
First, this means that the underlying growth assumptions on which the labor arbitrage market is based are no longer valid. Second, tensions around pricing and margins will heighten.
The challenge for providers is growth. The winning strategy will require moving from an industrialized arbitrage focus to one of differentiation and achieving a leadership position in new growth areas.
But the buying enterprises also have a challenge in a maturing market: don’t get trapped by vendor lock-in.
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