Last night, the 75th annual National Football League (NFL) draft officially kicked off. All of the buzz and media coverage -- the prospects, who will get drafted when, whether or not they will succeed in the NFL -- got me thinking.
Does the NFL have anything in common with IT vendors and IT organizations when they are look to "draft" new acquisitions and hire new "players"?
In many ways, an NFL or other professional sports franchise looking to sign a new player uses a similar approach as companies in other industries trying to gauge the value and fit of the talent or resources being hired or acquired. That includes the general hiring criteria all employers use: qualifications, skill sets, resume experience, and references, among other factors.
On the other hand, what about the unknown factors? We all see cases where a new talent, or resource, or company looks promising on paper -- or during tryouts. Yet history is littered with false starts and potential stars that just don't pan out.
In the case of NFL teams, they try to do their best to mitigate risk by performing due diligence before spending millions on a new rookie player. But no matter how hard they try, some of those rookies never do more than ride the pine.
That's the case for enterprise IT organizations, as well. No matter how carefully they research new team members, some workers just don't live up their potential while others come out of nowhere to become surprise stars.
The same holds true when companies look to do an acquisition of an emerging startup.
A number of IT companies, including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), have done very well with their recent acquisitions. Others, including the Sun Microsystems Inc. -Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) acquisition (now themselves acquired by Oracle), have not done so well. Many others fall somewhere in between. But they all looked like can't-miss prospects at one point or another.
We all like to think that we have what it takes to recognize a future star -- or a flash in the pan. (Think of the rise of fantasy sports...) So, who will be the 2010 IT acquisition winners? Which picks will pan out, which ones will not, and which companies will end up in the 2011 or 2012 IT industry draft?
In the meantime, let's sit back and see how the 2010 NFL draft plays out. It's always more fun to pick the winners and the losers when you're not the one with millions of dollars riding on the outcome.