I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the U.S., the overriding business philosophy of companies both large and small is expand or wither away and die.
For retail outlets, this means building more and more stores until, like Starbucks in Seattle, there are two across the street from each other. For high-tech companies, it takes the form of reaching beyond one's area of expertise. Anyone still own a Dell TV or a Toshiba server? How about driving around town in a car made by TaTa? I would buy an HP printer in a heartbeat but not an HP camera.
Another classic example was Heinz, which spent millions in advertising to get into the soup business. The result of all that advertising? Sales of Campbell's soup increased dramatically.
[ Further IT advice for uncertain times can be found in InfoWorld's top tech resolutions for 2009. ]
Companies never seem to learn their lesson. Perhaps it is hubris. Knowing others failed before them doesn't phase some companies in the least, because they believe they know better.
By the way, the opposite of this expand-or-die philosophy is to improve, perfect, and capture your market. In other words, offer products far superior to anyone else's and you will own the market.
Unfortunately, many companies learn too late that respect for products in one field does not extend to another.
The latest to succumb may be Cisco, which this week announced it will enter the consumer-electronics business, specifically digital stereo systems. Wi-Fi is one thing; stereo systems quite another.
And then there's HP, which wants to be your data warehouse provider. More of the same sad news.
Granted, HP in data warehousing is less of a stretch than Cisco stereos.
HP has the iron to do it. But if the folks at HP think the backbone of the data warehousing business is hardware, they are already on the wrong track.
HP did, however, buy strategic business expertise when it acquired EDS. And this is what is really needed to sell data warehousing, which is much more about strategy than operations. What HP has to do is learn to turn hunks of metal and pieces of crystal into a services rather than a hardware sale. After that, they will still have to convince cash-strapped enterprises to invest millions of dollars in products and services from the new kid on the block in an uncertain economic climate.