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H.P.’s Misstep Shows Risk in the Push for Big Ideas - NYTimes.com
November 21, 2012 | NYT | By QUENTIN HARDY.

The ill-fated marriage of the companies is a lesson for H.P. and other older technology giants as they throw billions at supposedly game-changing acquisitions, trying to gain a foothold in the future.

In that future, smartphones and tablets, connected to cloud-computing data centers, are the essential tools of work and play. Companies rent software over the air, rather than buying it with expensive maintenance contracts.

And vast streams of data are continually analyzed to find new patterns and make predictions about consumer behavior and product design. Autonomy, for instance, makes software that can analyze marketing patterns and advise a company on matters like where it should increase marketing resources.

These forces threaten older businesses, like H.P.’s traditional personal computer and data storage products. Other companies, like Oracle, Microsoft and Cisco, also face pressure. They are all trying to buy the future — and have the cash to do it..... But identifying the next big thing can be difficult, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of management at Yale University. Likely as not, he said, deals like the one for Autonomy have “maybe a 40 percent success, 60 percent failure rate.”

He added, “The odds are against you succeeding, but the odds are also worth taking.”

The real hazard, he said, is in the way companies describe these acquisitions as “natural, inevitable victories.” They should be seen, he said, as “an investment, like in research and development.”
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november 2012 by jerryking
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