Associated Press technology writer Brian Bergstein has produced a feature article examining the continuing, serial-acquisition-fueled expansion and evolution of EMC Corporation into, well . . . what exactly?
After spending more than $7 billion in the past three years on acquisitions that have extended the company’s reach into areas such as document management, message archiving and compliance, and information security, here’s how EMC CEO Joseph Tucci now describes the primary challenge facing his company:
“The biggest obstacle we face is what we spent the whole decade of the ’90s doing — that EMC is the storage company. We have to get customers to view us, as we’re calling it now, as an information infrastructure company.”
Perhaps so, but at least it was evident to everybody what a storage company did. It provided storage. Just what is an “information infrastructure company”? Isn’t that a nebulous description, an ambiguous designation, to foist upon bemused customers, partners, and employees — much less market analysts and journalists?
I am not saying that there isn’t an unseen method to the apparent acquisitive madness that drove EMC from its storage-hardware abyss into its current status as a growing company with nearly $11 billion in annual revenue and approximately 28,000 employees, even more than it had during its dotcom halcyon days, before the bubble burst like an the ulcer of a decadent gourmand who had far exceeded the boundaries of civilized consumption.
What I am saying, though, is that Joseph Tucci and his lieutenants must do a better job of explaining EMC’s raison d’etre than they have done in recent interviews with business journalists, the trade press, and market analysts.
EMC’s executives should be embarrassed at their inarticulate fumbling and inept communication. If you have a plan, as a richly remunerated CEO, you should be able to convey it clearly and cogently, not jabber vaguely about wanting to be viewed as an “information infrastructure company.” In making such a murky statement, you’ve generated more questions than answers, more fog than light. I don’t think that’s the intention.
It’s beginning to seem, rightly or wrongly, that EMC has been opportunistically acquiring companies in a variety of disparate growth markets rather than assembling a coherent portfolio of integrated products, services, and solutions that meet its customers’ needs. If that’s a mistaken view, Tucci and company need to set the record straight, without recourse to obfuscatory jargon and vacuous cliches.