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Predictions for EDUCAUSE
November 5, 2012 - 9:00pm

If you are reading Nate Silver's awesome book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't you know that:

a)  The track record of forecasters for predicting future events is abysmal.

b)  There is no correlation (and indeed an inverse correlation) between the confidence that one makes predictions and the accuracy of these prognostications.

In full knowledge of both of these facts about foretelling the future, I offer the following prediction for EDUCAUSE 2012:

Prediction:  A Significant Merger or Acquisition in the EdTech Curricular Media Space Will Be Announced

I have no foreknowledge of any acquisition or merger, and I've been continuously wrong in making this prediction (so why stop now?).   

My reasoning is that the edtech media management / rapid authoring / lecture capture space is both fast growing and fragmented. That any large educational services, edtech platform, or publishing company (and it is getting hard to tell the difference between these sectors), needs to have an educational content and management capability deeply integrated into the full stack of products or services to offer an end-to-end course creation and consumption experience.

Who do I see as the targets for acquisition? Where will a rollup take place?

1. Media Management:  I wrote about this space back in May of 2011 (headline:  Why an EDU Publisher Will Acquire Kaltura, ShareStream or Ensemble)   In the 18 months since I first made this prediction the case for acquisition of one of these media management platforms has only become stronger.   The most expensive of this group would be Kaltura, and I would not be surprised to see Google go after this company (as Kaltura is on other verticals beyond education).   Education is becoming increasingly media intensive, and the creation of media is diffusing out to faculty and students.   A system to manage, edit, tag, publish, serve, and analyze all this educational media is critical.   

2. Lecture Capture: There are still too many lecture capture providers in the market. I predict that Echo360 will be looking to purchase a smaller player such as SonicFoundry (provider of MediaSite), Panopto, or perhaps a smaller player nCast. I think that low cost players such as Crestron and emerging open source options such as OpenCast will put pressure on the incumbents. Consolidation would lower the customer acquisition, development, and back-end costs for lecture capture players. Dollars could be freed up to invest in innovation and partnerships around media management, mobile, and analytics.

3.  Synchronous Classes:  We are experiencing rapid growth in web-based meeting and synchronous class offerings. I've been wondering if Adobe's heart is really in this game, and if they will be looking to spin-off their Connect product (perhaps to Cisco)? We are seeing lots of news players, such as FuzeBox and Zoom, not to mention Blackboard's investment in Collaborate.   

I could also foresee acquisitions in the digital textbook / online coursepack space,  as publishers may want to make early investments in fast growing digital education companies before Amazon is able buy everyone up and dominate this market.

Where do you see possible mergers or acquisitions in the edtech space?  

What big announcements do you expect to come out of EDUCAUSE?


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