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Cisco and the Importance of Empathy in a Technology Vendor
June 22, 2020
Cisco Live was last week, and this was their first large scale virtual event. What made this event very different from the other games was the amount of effort they put into socially responsible projects. Many of the customer projects they highlighted are dealing with a variety of world problems, be they related to the pandemic or not.
HP's COVID-19 Response: There Should Be an Award for This
April 27, 2020
Some of the troubling reports of corporate responses to COVID-19 include forced work in unsafe areas, not enough -- or any -- protection gear, massive layoffs and furloughs, and the sense that a critical mass of well-paid CEOs and politicians don't get that many people live paycheck to paycheck. There are exceptions though, and HP stands out, thanks to HR VP Tracy Keogh and CEO Enrique Lores.
The Really Big Salesforce-Vlocity Deal
February 27, 2020
Salesforce just announced it would buy Vlocity -- a startup with all the markings of a unicorn including a billion-dollar valuation -- for $1.33 billion. Vlocity was cofounded and led by David Schmaier, who was executive vice president at Siebel Systems in its go-go years. When Oracle bought Siebel it made Schmaier a wealthy man. He promptly dropped out of the CRM business.
Rumblings in the Cloud
February 10, 2020
One of the old sayings is that there are "lies, damned lies and statistics," with the implication being you really can't trust most reported numbers. Still, we've often thought, at least with major vendors, that you could trust rankings. One current set of rankings involves cloud providers. The general impression was that Amazon was first, Microsoft second, and Google third.
Is Icahn Attempting a Hostile Takeover of HP? Figuring Out the Backstory
January 27, 2020
When it comes to any merger, you often can't trust the reason the firms are merging, particularly if financial rather than operational managers are driving the process. When it comes to hostile takeovers, you can bet you are being misled, because the rhetoric will address synergy, but the folks driving the effort know the more likely goal is to destroy the acquired company.
The CEO of the Decade
January 20, 2020
Who is most deserving of the title "CEO of the Decade"? Historically the focus in choosing CEO of the decade has been on their financial accomplishments, but that approach has left us in a world lacking diversity and empathy in positions of power -- particularly noticeable in the tech industry -- and one where global climate change may end the human race.
Using Technology to Fix the Flawed Impeachment Process
December 23, 2019
When the U.S. president was impeached last week, it surfaced the fact that impeachment, and particularly the removal of a U.S. president, is a process that doesn't work. Throughout U.S. history, there have been 45 presidents, and given that no one trains for that job, you'd figure several would have been removed for cause. However, impeachment has been attempted three times without a removal.
The Human Problems Underlying Intel's Diversity Report
December 16, 2019
When Intel released its diversity report last week, it got pounded for the lack of diversity in its executive staff. Intel is one of the few companies being transparent about diversity. Given that lack of diversity is the problem we want to solve, the bashing is stupid. It is only going to make it harder to address the problem. In effect, Intel did the right thing and was punished for it.
Banishing Bias From the Leadership Selection Process
November 18, 2019
I'm spending a lot of time these days looking at the evolving market for artificial intelligence and the problem of bias. I think the problem in part is due to confirmation bias -- the need to look only at the information that agrees with a position already set. Another contributing factor is the lack of a set of metrics that we can apply consistently. AI systems will face similar problems.
Ballmer's Vindication: Microsoft Launches 5 Apple-Killer Surface Products
October 7, 2019
One of the last major initiatives former CEO Steve Ballmer launched before he left Microsoft was its Surface effort. It was designed to address the concern that the iPod would take over the PC world. During the Surface launch last week, it wasn't hard to see that Ballmer was right conceptually. It just took Satya Nadella to execute, showcasing that Ballmer didn't have a strategic problem.
How Committed Is Your CEO to a Great Customer Experience?
September 30, 2019
Consumers have been adopting disruptive digital technologies in their daily lives at a rapid pace. Customers went from being limited to brick-and-mortar stores to researching, comparing and buying a company's products and services online. Along with those shifts came a change in how customers communicate with companies, and the need for positive, consistent and engaging customer experiences.
What's Wrong With Apple?
September 16, 2019
Apple held its huge product announcement event last week, and what once had people besides themselves with excitement has become a near pointless program of copied features and missed expectations. It is a shame to watch -- much like it was when Apple fired Steve Jobs. It appears that the firm has forgotten what Steve did to turn Apple into a unique company.
Workers' Prime Day Strike Could Pose a Problem for Amazon
July 9, 2019
Amazon workers at a Minnesota, fulfillment center plan to strike for six hours on July 15, the first day of Amazon's Prime Day sales event. The strike threat reportedly is linked to unsafe working conditions at Amazon's warehouses, caused by low wages and pressure to meet shipping demands. Union officials also want a larger portion of temporary warehouse workers converted to full-time employees.
Cisco's Take on Making the World a Better Place
June 17, 2019
I attended Cisco Live last week, and one of the things that impressed me was how many amazing things the company has been doing that have nothing to do with products, services or revenue. Most companies have a philanthropic budget and donate, but they don't really seem to care if the money makes a difference. For most, philanthropy is more about uplifting their image than making a difference.
Trailhead, Salesforce's Not-So-Secret Weapon
June 4, 2019
Salesforce has used its Trailhead learning system to teach developers how to program on its Lightning platform for more than five years. The company last week completed its fourth highly successful TrailheaDX conference, which attracted 14,000 people to the Moscone Center in San Francisco. There are plenty of good reasons for Salesforce to be in the software-coding-education game.
AMD Slam-Dunks Intel at Computex and It's a Good Thing
June 3, 2019
Like a lot of folks, I'm a tad sick of Intel. Last month we learned of its second big security scandal in as many years. Once again, the company not only neglected to disclose the problems in a timely way but also lacked a plan to recall the failed parts. Once again, buyers likely will have to cripple their Intel processors if they want to use them safely.
Where CEOs Go Wrong With Brand ID
May 24, 2019
Brand ID is key to every company's success and growth. Why then do so many senior executives at so many different companies screw it up? When you come up with a winning brand ID, it's OK to build on it and to change it for the better, but not for the worse. Customers buy from you based on your brand ID. If that changes, then customers may change their buying habits as well.
Is Nvidia Tesla's Kryptonite?
April 29, 2019
Tesla sure didn't have a good week last week, given the kind of press coverage it got. I'm not that worried about Tesla going away, though, as its products are far too popular for it to disappear. On the other hand, management clearly needs to be fixed. What got me started looking at Tesla last week was that it pretty much announced that Nvidia was its Kryptonite.
Following Protests, Google Cuts Temps, Vendors, Contractors a Fairer Deal
April 4, 2019
Google has unveiled new minimum standards for temps, vendors and contractors in the United States, in response to demands from an employee coalition that included full-time Google staffers as well as temporary workers and contractors. "Yesterday, we shared an update on some new initiatives to support our extended U.S. workforce," Google spokesperson Jenn Kaiser said Wednesday.
Apple's Path to Destruction
April 1, 2019
One of the things I mention very infrequently is that I was groomed to be a CEO from a very early age. My educational background and two programs at IBM gave me a unique view of what kills a company. One of the big company killers -- and Chrysler before Lee Iacocca is a leading example -- is excess product breadth. That is what we just saw from Apple last week.
Why Intel Is in Such Horrid Condition
January 28, 2019
Intel released earnings last week. It beat expectations on the bottom line, but it missed big on the top line and the outlook was dismal. Looking under the covers, the company is a mess. The expected CEO announcement didn't occur. AMD's earnings are expected to be very strong, and AMD just made some organizational changes that suggest an increase in its competitive attack.
Is Facebook's Five-Point Fix-It Plan Enough?
January 22, 2019
Many faithful Facebook users had the rug pulled out from under them during the last year. Both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the U.S. Congress and spilled the beans on how the company had betrayed its members. I don't think the company's leaders realized that Facebook was doing the wrong thing until recently. Now they have a five-point fix-it-plan. Will it work?
IBM Chief Sounds Cautionary Note on Deep Data, AI, Quantum Computing
January 9, 2019
Powerful technologies like deep data, AI and quantum computing should be introduced into society carefully, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty declared in opening remarks at CES. "These tools are so powerful they will solve some of the most enduring problems -- like food safety, waste," she said, "but like all powerful tools, we've got to usher them in safely into society."
2018: The Year of Fighting for Positive Change
December 24, 2018
When I think of corporate responsibility, one company tends to float to the top, and that is Cisco. With massive efforts to train people all over the world in the critical networking skills needed to secure and expand global communications, Cisco has been taking a major chunk out of joblessness. It has invested millions to reduce homelessness near its headquarters, for example.
Let's Create a TV Show to Fix Silicon Valley
November 12, 2018
Startups have been creating employee hell in Silicon Valley. That was on my mind as I read the book Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us. I think this book should be required reading for anybody who thinks working for a startup in Silicon Valley would be fun. Unless you are into humiliation and abuse you probably should avoid these startups like the plague.
Crisis in Tech: Who Can Save Companies When Execs Go Off the Rails?
October 29, 2018
"Too many digital leaders have lost their minds," Kara Swisher recently wrote, citing some frightening examples of poor leadership. She pointed to the solution adopted by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who hired a chief ethical officer -- but I think that would just repeat the mistake we made with chief risk officers around a decade ago. The risk managers had responsibility but no real authority.
Women as CEOs: The Problems and the Promise
September 24, 2018
I've followed several female CEOs over the years. Most failed, largely because they were both unqualified for the job and their boards didn't back them up. In several cases, the board and the CEO seemed to be in conflict, or the board failed to act. That has created the impression that female CEOs are a bad bet. However, I believe the real problem is that boards haven't been doing their jobs.
Oracle's Earnings Angst
September 22, 2018
OK, this is looking somewhat predictable. Oracle reported $9.20 billion in Q1 revenue, or $0.03 per share, against consensus estimates in the $9.24 to $9.29 range. In other words, it missed its number. How concerning is this? Excuse me while I yawn. It's important all right, but no reason to get crazy. Still, some representatives of the widows and orphans who own the stock went into a tizzy.
Oracle's Bad Boy Image
August 21, 2018
No one at Oracle will ever be nominated for sainthood, and that's probably OK with them. Over the years the company has developed a bad boy image that in some cases is richly deserved, while in others it has been embellished by events. Much derives from the brash doings of founder and longtime CEO (now CTO) Larry Ellison, who may be a charter member of the "never explain, never complain" club.
The Weird Mistakes Killing Tesla
August 13, 2018
Tesla is trending to fail spectacularly. It has been burning cash at an unsustainable rate, and it keeps making avoidable mistakes that weaken it. Here's what is weird: You'd think the firm's biggest problem would be that every large car maker was working behind the scenes to kill it. However, the car companies for the most part appear to have worked harder to emulate Tesla than to destroy it.
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Women in Tech
Which Big Tech CEO that testified at the Congressional Antitrust Hearing on July 29 is the most trustworthy?
Jeff Bezos of Amazon
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook
Sundar Pichai of Google
Tim Cook of Apple
All of them are equally trustworthy to some extent.
None of them are trustworthy whatsoever.