I love well-designed business development infographics. Infographics that portray a past story and suggest future direction. M&A infographics particularly excite me. Show me what a company has recently acquired, illustrate the product or service gaps that now exist, and then suggest future M&A activity.
Here's an example -- What's next for HP M&A? This infographic illustrates HP M&A activity for the past ten years by sector and by deal size. Then the author suggests future deals that might fill in gaps.
Of course, predicting future moves is tricky business, especially when it comes to M&A activity. Gap analysis, as useful as it is, is not the only motiviation for M&A. Sometimes management wants to consolidate existing markets -- think AT&T and T-Mobile. At other times, a company may want to move into new markets -- think Berkshire Hathaway and Burlington Northern. Other motivations abound.
Predicting M&A action is no easy chip shot. But visualizing the past provides context. And increases your odds at mapping the future.