I thought about the ad as I read this Fortune article about HP.
Two visiting consultants are waiting for the elevator at a big company’s headquarters. One is from HP, the other from IBM. The consultant from Big Blue pushes the up button to visit the CEO on the top floor. The HP man, by contrast, hits the down button to see the IT guy in the basement.
What Fortune did not say is the CEO asked the IBM team for a proposal for product development which called for hardware, software and services skills. The CEO also said I have heard Sam (the Chairman) proudly talk to Wall Street about how he divested the PC and printer group. So, where will IBM get its hardware competency for this project?
In the meantime, the CIO tells the HP rep “I heard Meg talk about why hardware continues to be strategic to you. I think our CEO needs to hear her pitch”
We live in a fickle industry. Suddenly hardware is the new software. Microsoft with the Surface tablet, Amazon with Kindle, Oracle with Sun, HP continuing with PSG, Apple with solid hardware AND software are “in”.
Of course, it does not stop people from saying “Software will eat the world”. Another glib one-liner like “hardware is the new software”
The problem is you cannot be one dimensional anymore. In a cloud setting, software companies have to be also good at data centers. Hardware companies have to become SLA savvy like outsourcers. Services firms have to learn to blend mobility with telemetry and logistical knowledge. Social mavens quickly realize their favorite moniker “Enterprise 2.0” proposes way more than it can deliver.
Actually, the IT industry is lucky to be not expected to be as widely multi-disciplinary as some of the case studies I had in The New Polymath
Conversations in the (GE Global Research Center) cafeteria, in the hallways, and at the 40 – room lodge attached to the center effortlessly drift from pathology to holography, from one “aha” to another.
or The New Technology Elite
Go to the 3M website and you see a “periodic table” with 46
elements. Click on Bi, and it describes 3M in Biotechnology, Mf describes what it does with Mechanical Fasteners, and We with Accelerated Weathering. The company many of us know best for Post-it notes and Scotch tape has more than 55,000 products and has an uncanny ability to combine highly innovative technologies in new and unexpected ways
And yet, in IT we repeatedly try to simplify and narrow our focus. I often hear “Steve Jobs was all about focus”. And my answer usually is “See what he did, not what he said”.
BTW – can you imagine him ever saying “Sir, we don’t actually do what we propose”
(Image credit: Bigstock)
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