Epilogue to von Simson book on strategy puts the spotlight on innovation

Long-time consultant and IT industry observer Ernest von Simson is fascinated by the different paths of HP and IBM

By , IDG News Service |  IT Management

Besides updating the trajectories and IT leaders he focused on in the book, von Simson wanted to write the epilogue as a way to note how rapidly IT has changed in just a few years, with the advent of tablets and smartphones. He is tracking Android's emergence, along with the rise of the bring-your-own-device movement and its effects on enterprise IT. He's also interested in cloud computing and SaaS (software as a service), which is "obviously very important," he said, adding, "I always thought it wouldn't be." But the rise in cloud computing changed his viewpoint, with SaaS central to that, now having obvious advantages in many areas such as back-office, legal, accounting and human resources.

"So, if you were HP, you're sitting right in the cross hairs [of that industry movement] and the great hope was going to be Autonomy," he said. "I think they just didn't do the right due diligence, but the idea was probably right, to build it through an acquisition. It just wasn't the right one."

When his book was first published, von Simson was engaged in cybersecurity research that he couldn't say much about at the time, but returned to in his most recent interview with IDG News Service. "Everybody's vulnerable," he said. "That's what I knew but couldn't really tell you last time we talked, was that we knew that all of our clients had been penetrated -- everybody. You might ask, 'didn't they have security?' Well, yeah, they all had great security. It's just hopeless."

So hopeless, in fact, that he believes the comments last October from former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were not unnecessarily alarmist. "I think he was two or three years late. I don't think it is overblown. Just from my observations and talking to our clients, I don't think it's overblown."

Ultimately, network infrastructure has to be rethought and retooled, he said. "I have a funny feeling that all of the money we've spent on making these systems efficient and friendly and accessible has been right in one notion and exactly wrong in another notion." And it may be too late to fix what's wrong in any easy way, von Simson suggested, bringing up the idea of fingerprint identification as a savior. "What if somebody steals your thumbprint? Then you're done."

A less-serious topic of previous discussion had been his views of social networking, specifically Facebook, which in July 2010 he called "banal." While he is a Facebook member, he only checks in there every six months of so, but that's not because he's averse to social networking itself. "I really love LinkedIn," he said, adding that he finds it a worthy vehicle for reconnecting and staying in touch with people in his line of work.

"I think you need a business model for these social networks," he said. "Absent that, it's just too annoying. So figure out a way to do that -- and it's almost impossible to do it going backwards."

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