All too often I have seen businesses repeat catastrophic mistakes when implementing strategic initiatives. Here are the five most common mistakes that companies regularly make thinking they are best practices.
Earlier this week, I was at Dell's analyst update on its thin client business and it got me thinking about how thin clients were supposed to replace personal computers. An experience that was instant on/off, that embodied simplicity and reliability and that not only had the performance of a PC but could be updated without any user impact was a compelling idea.
I'm not going to call them out by name. I'm not that fond of getting nasty calls from PR folks, but I'm going to list what I think the conditions are for failure and you can then apply those conditions to your vendors to see how they fit. This goes beyond technology and into most areas of business.
One of the most interesting talks at this week's Dell World was a panel with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Andrew McAfee and Eric Brynjolfsson, authors of The Second Machine Age. It was a fascinating -- and frightening -- talk about what's to come.
I was taken by a customer presentation by Stephen Rayda, CTO of Purdue Pharma, at this week's EMC Analyst Summit. Like all pharmaceutical firms, Purdue faces a lot of pressure -- and it just got a new CEO to boot. He asked which departments didn't need his attention; luckily, IT was the only one to make that list.
Company turnarounds are a big part of what I cover. There's clearly a process that seems to work far better than others. Based on what I saw at BMC Engage, the first BMC conference this decade, and have learned over the last year of executive meetings, Bob Beauchamp and his team have done an impressive job. If it weren't for the fact that BMC plans to go public again – I can hear Michael Dell in my head, screaming, "Don't do it!" – I could easily say this turnaround is complete.
At IBM's Think Forum in New York, CEO Ginni Rometty took us through the success and future of Watson, IBM's automated decision engine. This technology fascinates me because it's the first major step to change the basic computing paradigm.
As I watched the Windows 10 teaser from San Francisco this week, I thought back over the 20 years I've covered the platform and to what, for me, was the first real version of Windows. Windows 95 effectively launched me as an analyst. I doubt I'd have made it had I not been tied at the hip to that product.
It's important to understand early on when an initiative won't succeed. Sometimes that isn't easy, but often you can look under the covers at a firm's effort and see that it simply won't reach critical mass. While a company can get lucky, failure often has at its roots an unwillingness or inability to do what's required to win. In the context of the technology market, that ability to realize this applies to most any endeavor.
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