Why IBM and Microsoft (and to a degree Google) continue to struggle…

Is it sad when the travelers come upon the embedded statue, buried to its base in the sand? Ozymandias do you cry knowing your vast empire that once stretched as far as the human eye could see is no more?

Recently there have been a series of interesting moves in the cloud and computing space. One of them, the partnership of IBM and Indiegogo is one that I have lamented. In part because I foresaw then, and now, the end of a crowd funding site. It will happen soon. Frankly, it is sad because the concept is solid, in the execution Indiegogo and IBM picked the wrong model.

IBM is a company I have sold against for many years. Back when they, IBM were the establishment. They, IBM, were the company that you couldn’t get fired for buying.

That has changed. Yesterday Warren Buffet announced he was selling IBM stock holdings. Why? In part because IBM has been flat for the past five years. They have made some great moves in the IoT space, with Bluemix, but they don’t change fast enough.

AWS has taken the little guy complex and done a phenomenal job but now are no longer the little guy. They like IBM and Microsoft before them have to be careful to avoid living wholly as an engineering company. Microsoft continues to struggle because of their inability to get out of their way, as an engineering company. IBM and Microsoft both have the same problem, in the brave new world, they have to sell their stake in the brave old world. IBM has to walk away from its mainframe business. Microsoft has to give up the cash cow Microsoft Office. Amazon doesn’t have either of those legacy systems, and it makes them stronger in the short run. The reality of an engineering mindset will get them soon, but not for the next 3-5 years. They will continue to grow until then and frankly, stop at that point.

It is funny in a sense. There was a time when I competed against IBM. There was a time when I fought tooth and nail against what they had established. We often lost, in fact at first we lost virtually every time. We were young and bold; we didn’t understand that No was a bad word, we just went back and started over.

I watch the landscape, and I realize that the Giants may struggle. The little agile creatures will eventually rise again. As the engineering the only culture dinged IBM, then Microsoft, to a degree, recently Google, and it will ding Amazon.

The future of cloud, of computing and of what we call IoT is the reality of simple. Make integration painless or at least somewhat less painful first and you will be the winner. The four giants will struggle soon (unless one of them wakes up and realizes there is a better way). In fact, a couple of them have struggled in the recent time. 

Ozymandias was a great king. A rule of people. I think he was an engineer. It doesn’t matter how cool your widget is. It doesn’t matter how many things you can leverage as part of the solution. It matters that what you build solves the problem that brought the person to the desert looking at the statue of Ozymandias in the first place.

Engineers are smart people. They built IBM. They built Microsoft. They built Google. They built part of AWS, but Amazon as a company has a bunch of retail people as well. It may be the thing that allows them to deliver solutions effectively long after the others lose their way again.


agile cloud dreamer