Friday, September 12, 2008

Tech Groups Make Perplexing Move

I am perplexed by the announcement from the AeA (formerly American Electronics Association) and Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) that they are in discussions to merge their organizations.

The business case to combine is apparent and was well articulated in by Computerworld writer Patrick Thibodeau. A larger technology trade group will have more sway in political circles and their technology members will benefit financially by reducing their annual membership costs.

Yet, the mere disclosure of merger discussions creates tremendous pressure to now get a deal done -- even if the terms of a transaction benefit one group more than the other. And what happens if the combination doesn’t come together? Each trade group will have only further weakened its lobbying position, while creating apprehension among its members and employees.

Was this proactive promotion of a possible merger a test to determine market reaction? If so, couldn’t that have been accomplished in a more discrete manner? This is a real surprising (and knucklehead) move by two well respected, influential groups.

Full disclosure: Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) had been a long-standing member of the AeA and I was very active as a member of the executive committee of the group’s Potomac Council. Our involvement concluded a few years back.

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