This week between Christmas and the New Year is a good time to look back on the year that was, and it was one hell of a year. We saw a lot of interesting products and events. We saw the accomplishment of the near-impossible task of taking EMC private by Michael Dell, apparently taking the “go big or go home” saying to extremes, and showcasing that founders can still do big things. As you sip on your eggnog, let’s talk about some of the things that happened in 2016 that still bug me.
Why Don’t More Companies Copy Dell
Acquisitions have become a huge money hole for every company but Dell. Virtually every acquired company is eventually destroyed by the acquiring company. It is like a retelling of the old joke: How do you become a millionaire raising horses? Start with $10 million dollars. Except with acquisitions, replace the millions with billions. The Dell process is relatively easy: Identify what made the company worth what you paid and then don’t destroy that. This is like shooting a gun: Identify the end where the bullets come out and put the other toward your face, except most firms seem to prefer shooting themselves in the head. Even taking the company private, the benefits to Dell have been massive, yet going private is still the exception rather than the rule.
Clinton’s Email Server
Why didn’t the unauthorized server that Hillary Clinton took so much heat for get picked up and flagged early in her tenure? It makes you wonder just how many breaches the U.S. government and its departments had that we don’t know about, and how many other massive security holes haven’t been caught. I still don’t get the claims that the server wasn’t hacked, either. It wasn’t secure and there was no tracking so there is no way to tell whether or not it has been hacked. And the FBI did say it probably was.
Amazon Echo vs. Apple
Apple made a ton of money off of the iPod, and it came out with Siri, an automated attendant, first. So why was it Amazon that figured out how to connect the iPod to Siri and come up with a new hot iPod-like device, the Amazon Echo? This is like someone inventing the wheel and a drag cart but not figuring out you could put them together to create a rolling wagon. Now that the Echo has been around for years, why is Apple focused on cars rather than an iPod version of the Echo? You’d figure Apple would know the market better than Amazon and wouldn’t want to lose its music customers to Amazon music, yet it is like Apple never got that the Amazon Echo is basically a plug-in iPod mated with a Siri-like interface called Alexa. How the heck do you miss that meeting?
The U.S. has been “influencing” elections in other countries for decades and has market leadership in the technology used to make that happen. There was every indication that, eventually, a foreign government would do the same to the U.S. So why wasn’t protecting against this a priority? This seems to be an ongoing trend. We develop a weapon, but we don’t seem to prioritize developing a defense against it, even though we know, eventually, that weapon will be used against us.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+