Bigger Than The Next Big Thing

Symantec's John Thompson adresses how IT companies are charting the post bubble global economy.

September 17, 2004

2 Min Read
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Helping customers manage the complexity of their IT systems is more important to Silicon Valley and its technology industry than "the next big thing."

That's the word from Symantec Chairman and CEO John Thompson, who spoke Tuesday at a gathering of more than 300 Silicon Valley insiders at The Churchill Club, a Palo Alto, Calif. organization famous for its networking confabs in an area built on the art of the schmooze.

"Silicon Valley has to be a lot more careful about the promises it makes about the next big thing," Thompson said to loud laugher. "We innovate, but then we report to customers that it's the greatest thing that ever occurred in the history of mankind. The vexing issue [among large enterprise customers] is how to address the growing complexity of the systems they've created. They don't know how to make it all work together and it's driving them nuts. And it's the reason why much of the value they expected from IT investment hasn't been realized."

Addressing the topic "Strategy without a roadmap: IT explorers chart the post bubble global economy," Thompson touted the contrarian notion that vendors should diversify - not retreat into the current vogue of tight verticalization. "The reason many companies busted post-2000 was their entire cycles focused on one customer segment," Thompson said. "The companies that did well are the ones with the most diverse customer base, product portfolio and routes to market."

Also on the agenda Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard Executive Vice President Ann Livermore said that consolidation of servers and storage devices is top of mind for HP customers."And the next big trend we see, which we think will drive tremendous growth, is that every business process that used to be physical and static will become virtual, mobile, digital and personal. Whole industries will be disintermediated."

Livermore also pointed to two HP efforts overseas that will likely work their way into the United States. "We had a project called stone soup -- a low end server for the Chinese market. It is selling like hotcakes and we will introduce it in the rest of the world," she said. "And with Unicef we did 'office in a box,' where we can drop ship hardware and software to developing countries and have an office in three hours."

ROCHELLE GARNER contributed to this report.

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