Archive for October, 2007

Technology for Tomorrow’s Winners

By Eleanor Haas

Change or die. The mandate to update IT infrastructures
comes from today’s intense competitive challenges. A recently posted IBM white paper – Into the
Future: The Technology Fast Track for
Financial Markets
(http://www-03.ibm.com/industries/financialservices/doc/content/bin/fss_fm_ins_into_the_future.pdf)
focuses on financial markets, as increasing numbers of equities trade
orders are executed using algorithms and the data volume explosions stresses
out front-office systems. But virtually
all business sectors are experiencing both unprecedented competitive pressures
and an exponential explosion in the volume of data being generated. And this calls for the analytic capabilities
high performance computing (HPC) provides. 

The good news is that HPC is no
longer affordable only by the US Government and well-financed research
organizations. It has become an option
for small-to-mid-sized businesses with modest budgets in the tens of thousands
of dollars – wherever computational problems require significant processing
power in order to have rapid access to very large amounts of data that must be
processed quickly.

Hedge funds could not survive
without HPC, and, when you think of it, they may have huge assets under
management but are not large organizations. Biotech companies too are small and equally dependent on HPC.

Intel and AMD have brought
processor costs down, and major hardware vendors, such as IBM and HP, now offer
products specifically designed for smaller organizations. Applications developers too have designed
products for smaller environments. To
complete the picture, a great many tools now exist to enable systems that can
be easily operated and maintained by companies that are not expert in IT and
computing.

Companies still need to determine the best technology
solution for their particular situation and then to structure a fine-tuned
infrastructure of components. But now
HPC is there for the taking, and taking it could have a lot to do with who
makes it into the ranks of the next generation of winners.

GE Adopts Extreme Partnering

By Eleanor Haas

GE
appears to be once again proving a new standard – this time having to do with
partnering.  Technology innovators often try to use partnering as a key
growth strategy.  They use it  to achieve  R&D,
marketing/distribution and/or financing goals.   Sadly, too many
blunder in without fully appreciating the complex art and science of
structuring and operating strategic relationships.  The result is that the
majority fail.  One estimate is that 70 percent overall fail; other, that
50 percent fail within three years.

Worst of all,
they fail for preventable reasons: Mismatched companies, unmanaged
expectations, lack of competency in developing the relationship and/or lack of
competency in managing the processes and relationships needed for
implementation.

GE is showing
another side of the coin:  partnering can work successfully when
you do it right.  We found it stunning to discover the extent to which
industry leader GE has turned around from a “do it my way” approach to partner
on an unprecedented scale. “It’s better to partner with the No. 3 company that
wants to be No. 1 than to buy a tiny company or go it alone,” says CEO Jeff
Immelt.

What’s more,
GE is using joint ventures as a first choice to test new markets, not as a last
resort Even VC firms are part of this strategy. Teams of GE researchers are
today working with VC firms to discover technologies the company may want, so
GE is investing in start-ups as a result. Is this the same company that has
asserted for years that its management approach, and only its management
approach, was the way to go?

We think
partnering represents the future for any and all growth companies. To succeed
requires a detailed planning process, relentless patience in seeking out the
right partners and the right deals and, finally, tenacious commitment to
operating the relationship as professionally as if it were an entity in its own
right – because that’s what it is.