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Jeff Kagan: Expect A.I. Acquisitions in 2017

There's a lot of growth ahead for artificial intelligence...
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.
Equities columnist Jeff Kagan is a telecom, technology and wireless analyst and consultant. He covers 5G, AI, IoT, the metaverse, autonomous driving, healthcare, telehealth, pay TV and more. Follow him at and on Twitter @jeffkagan and LinkedIn.

Acquisitions will play a larger and important role in AI growth in 2017. This year we will start to hear more about AI as companies stick their flag in the ground of this new playing field. The reason is simple: No company wants the AI growth wave to pass them by. They all want to be players going forward. To do that, ready or not, they must be in the game.

AI is important and will eventually change everything. It will change business, our personal lives, healthcare, medicine, technology, government, food… everything. In fact, over the next several years, it will start to both impact and ultimately change every industry. And AI will change companies forever.

AI Players Like IBM Watson, AT&T, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google

Countless companies will use AI. The early adopters in every industry will have a competitive advantage. That’s until the rest of their competitors jump into the space. And they will because if they don’t, they will lose business. So, what starts out as a competitive advantage eventually becomes just another cost of doing business.

There are already several companies making waves in the AI space. Companies like IBM (IBM) Watson, AT&T (T), Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) are just a few of the very large players. There are also quite a few smaller players making headway. I believe many of these smaller companies will be acquired by the larger ones simply because the larger companies don’t yet have the expertise and people they need. Before long, every company will be talking about AI.

Analyst AI Briefing

I am regularly briefed by executives at companies large and small in the AI space. There is quite a bit of talk in the marketplace today. It’s important to remember however, even though there is so much talk, very little AI is available to today’s company and user. I think that will change relatively soon as new ideas will begin to roll into the marketplace. Today, there are only a few companies with important ideas and technology that is impacting our world.

With all the excitement that we will see in 2017, companies need to stay on the radar. They need to catch the AI wave. If not, it will go ahead without them, leaving them behind. That means companies will both grow their presence in AI, and they will acquire innovative companies who have the ideas, thinking and AI experts they need.

Companies Need AI Workers to Grow

If you want to know what industry or sectors to focus on in your work going forward, AI is a great place to start. There will be an incredible growth wave of need for workers and executives in this field with a powerful understanding of AI. Workers that can help a company grow. And every company will want to grow in this space. How is your AI knowledge and skill-set?

Investors will also find AI a rich playground. In the next few years, fortunes will be made and lost. Some companies will be big winners. Others will try and simply not make it. Choosing the right company whether you are an investor, a worker or executive is always the big challenge.

Investors, Executives, Workers Find Growth in AI

Keep your eyes open. Every company is going to start talking AI in their announcements and press releases. They all want to be a player in this new space. Company after company will throw their hat in the AI ring and try to get attention.

With all that chaos and noise, only a smaller percentage of companies will be successful in AI. These are the companies we need to pay attention to. There are several large companies and several smaller ones who will be acquired in the next few years. This is the opportunity for growth to keep an eye on.

Today is Early Days of AI

Early on, I would say most companies in the AI space are trying to stay with the growth wave. Investors, workers and executives will all benefit. At this early stage, companies don’t have to earn a profit. They just must have an important idea that other companies need or want to acquire.

Then, over the next few years, as the AI space matures, leaders will separate themselves from the pack. These are the companies that will continue to show growth going forward. The others will start to fade away. This has happened in every other growth industry we have watched in recent decades.

Understanding who to invest in, work for and lead is key. Understanding timing is also key. Early opportunities will be abundant until the marketplace begins to understand AI better. Today it doesn’t. Today, AI is just a term with lots of bells and whistles. Eventually the marketplace will understand it much better.

AI is important. It will be a vibrant growth sector going forward. In the early days, many companies will grow on the same wave, whether they make money or not. Over time, only the real growth companies will be rewarded. So, stay alert. Things will eventually change-over. Until then, enjoy the ride.

Jeff Kagan is an columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected] His web site is Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan

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