In KC with my kids for a chess tournament last week, I dragged my son to go see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in town. Brought back memories from my visit to the area a while ago. The sheer hostility of the sea and surrounding desert is striking. And yet such an amazing discovery in that barren land.
There's been lots of talk recently about dead technology companies. Like the Dead Sea they are not dead in a literal sense. But they sure seem inhospitable to innovation - not too many scrolls being found in their labs, while just a short distance away are lands of milk and honey.
This week in Sapphire a lot of attention will be paid to SAP's ecosystem (who will be the next Virsa?), the SDN and the blogging community (that SAP has smartly cultivated). What's striking is, while SAP deserves credit for facilitating, all this has little to do with its labs. For the $ 15 billion it charges its customers each year, you think it could deliver more innovation on its own, not just a widget here or a Duet there?
Look at IBM - the most innovative things it has done in the last few years is sponsor the Global Innovation Outlook and get close to the Open Source community. The pride of tech R&D now mostly acquires smaller, innovative companies.
How do you explain Microsoft and AT&T asking for Justice to look at Google's acquisition of DoubleClick? Microsoft and AT&T afraid of a vendor one tenth their collective sizes which a couple of years ago was not even on their radar screen?
My son and I also managed to catch the Mystery of the Nile on a big, IMAX type
screen. Both the Scrolls and the movie were awe inspiring. But you could see how mighty dynasties atrophy. The Sun Gods. The Babylonians. The Romans. Many of our larger vendors are in similar decline.