Back in November, I talked about “my toughest job.” In thissegment I want to discuss some of the things we are doing to create more integrated solutions both inside of EMC and with our partners.
As you might imagine, when a company both acquires and builds so many individual products and technologies, it generally winds with great technologies that look and interact like they come from a bunch of different companies (which they did!)
The natural inclinations are to do one of two extremes. On one side, a company can keep the new products/technologies completely “separate” to shield them from the risk of being overshadowed (or crushed) by other, larger products. On the other side, one can try to drive maximum “synergies” by quickly bringing products and teams together - often before they understand how the value is achieved. We are all trained that faster equals better and, therefore, must be more profitable.
I believe that most acquisitions do fail because companies try to integrate products and acquisitions too quickly before they really have a full understanding of their values to customers. Keeping things separate is low risk but also not what customers want in terms of integration, and simplicity.
So the answer lies somewhere in the middle. For a business environment, the middle ground is generally considered a bad place to be – which is why I believe that so many companies have so much difficulty getting value from acquisitions.
I am (or should say was) a distance runner. I ran cross-country and track in school, usually 880, mile, and 2 mile events. One thing I learned in track events was that, for any race under about 220 yards (for me anyway) – the strategy was simple – “run as fast as you can!” For the longer events, it was all about pace. Winning here (or at least getting your best time) comes from setting the right pace. Run too fast at the start and you will just burn out.
So, with our goal to build on a single vision of an Information Infrastructure, our efforts are to set the winning pace in what we do. One example is the effort we have undertaken to have “common software platforms” for key base functions across EMC. Within EMC, we have key areas defined where we will have base software “platforms” that can be used within any product we sell. These common platforms are in foundational areas like operational management and base security. Individual products are not limited in any way but the common foundation provides increased simplicity, reduced support costs, and far greater interoperability.
Now, as anyone who likes to design things will attest, given a choice, we all like to start with a clean sheet of paper and build new. Leveraging and sharing is hard and needs to have distinct benefits to the “consumers” along with clear ways to get changes made, features added, etc. To solve this we took a lesson from the open source community and added specific ways for the product teams to collaboratively manage the common SW platform functions and strategy.
All of this can be tough to do but doing the tough things is the real way to deliver products and solutions with greater value.