Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'

Greg Schulz, Founder, Server and StorageIO | 4/23/2010 | 49 comments

Greg Schulz
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.

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Paul Bonner   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/28/2010 5:14:43 PM
Re: Draft Debacles
This just over the wire. Not Lenovo/Palm. HP/Palm! For the tidy sum of $1.2 billion! (http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=33806&tag=nl.e589). Let the analysis begin...
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Lainey   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 10:27:57 PM
Re: Draft Debacles

LOL! Don’t we all wish we earned a gazillion dollars! The minimum salary for an NFL rookie in 2009 is $310,000.  And that’s what you get competing 4 years in college first. The average football player will be in the NFL for only 3 years. (Source: NFL Players Association)

I am tired of competing against the overseas freelancer who works for $2.00 per hour! Let’s have an American Freelance Association and compete for some real money!

Fredric Paul   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 7:53:00 PM
Re: Good question
sechristiansen, MVP of the video conferencing draft has to be the Icelandic volcano that I won't even attempt to spell.

Scattering a little ash at 30,000 feet has done more for videoconferencing than all the mergers and acquisitions in the world.

See Online Meetings: Lessons From the Volcano  http://www.enterpriseefficiency.com/author.asp?section_id=898&doc_id=190757&

dator   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 6:46:07 PM
Re: Best Free-Agent Pickup Ever
Ya they had sold all of it off by 2002. They weren't even allowed to switch them to regular stock until 2000 and then sold them off in small increments, as to not hurt Apple.
Fredric Paul   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 6:36:33 PM
Re: I didn't see anyone mention this mess
Zeppy, Skype was a "talented player drafted by the wrong team." Like you say, the company was valuable, but it was always hard to see what it brought to eBay.

Compare it to PayPal, which seemed a perfect fit.
Fredric Paul   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 6:35:03 PM
Re: I didn't see anyone mention this mess
Many sports stars as similarly insufferable. As long as they perform at a high level, it's tolerated. As soon as they stumble, it's payback time.

I don't think it's necessary to be a jerk to be effective, and not being a jerk might in fact buy a CIO -- or a quarterback -- some leeway if/when they hit a rough patch.

Of course, Steve Jobs has probably already earned himself as much leeway as he'll ever need...

Fredric Paul   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 6:31:53 PM
Re: Draft Debacles
George Bell = The Portland Trailblazers. Or, the team that passed on the chance to draft Michael Jordan in favor of Sam Bowie.

Sam Bowie? Who?

Fredric Paul   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 6:29:50 PM
Re: Best Free-Agent Pickup Ever
No worries, and of course MS has long since sold that off. Too bad for them.
CMTucker   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 6:28:11 PM
Re: Draft Debacles
(Lenovo/Palm) I love this analogy! hahaha

It's almost as if they are buying it for whatever cache the brand still has...
fbpmt   Picking the Winners in the Enterprise IT 'Draft'   4/26/2010 5:41:59 PM
Re: Draft Debacles

but then after four years, they receive a contract for a gzillion dollars...

dont you think net, net the IT'er puts in more hours vs the Grad to pro athlete?

hmmm .. interesting thought..
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