The Peacock: Under New Ownership
We always thought Microsoft wanted to rule the world, but we were mistaken. It’s Comcast, which announced late yesterday it will pay nearly $17 billion to buy GE’s shares in their joint NBCU venture, making the MSO sole owner. The deal should close sometime this quarter. What this could mean, when all is said and done, is perhaps a more streamlined procurement process for manufacturers and service providers alike, which could cut down on wait time. But wait, there’s more. NBCU will purchase its digs in the iconic 30 Rock building from GE along with the space it uses at CNBC’s headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for a tidy $1.4 billion. But wait, there’s even more (for shareholders). Comcast’s investors will get a 20-percent higher annualized dividend this year: $0.78 per share.
 
SMB Financial Processes: Too Lean And Mean?
The average small-to-medium-business (SMB) employee spends 16 hours and 53 minutes per month on financial processes, equating to two full working days on activity unrelated to his or her role, according to a report from Basware. Of those two days, the most time-consuming exercises include responding to supplier/customer inquiries (2 hours 19 minutes), creating and sending invoices (1 hour 55 minutes) and reviewing invoices to be paid (1 hour 45 minutes). Not surprisingly, more than 50 percent of U.S. SMB staffers don’t believe their companies have a clear process for chasing unpaid invoices, leaving them vulnerable to cashflow challenges. Notes Basware’s John Webster, SMBs need to look into automating their financial processes if growth and healthy cashflow are to be achieved. Automation also could reduce pressure on employee time and remove manual errors.
 
Outlook Bleak For Traditional International Voice Providers
New data from TeleGeography show international telephone traffic grew 5 percent in 2012 (to 490 billion minutes), significantly less than the 13-percent average carriers could count on to offset voice price declines during the past 20 years. Traffic from voice and messaging applications like Skype, Google (Talk and Voice), WeChat (Weixin), Viber, Nimbuzz, Line and KakaoTalk is spiking, with TeleGeography estimating that cross-border Skype-to-Skype voice-and-video traffic grew 44 percent in 2012 (167 billion minutes). This increase of nearly 51 billion minutes is more than twice that of all international carriers combined. Moreover, if Skype’s traffic were added to the volume of international phone calls, the firm suggests, international voice traffic would have grown that historic 13 percent last year, meaning that, although demand for cross-border talking hasn’t declined, callers have chosen to take telcos out of the equation.

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