The fact is, you just can’t buy innovation.  Companies tend to believe they can.  When they see a small company with a technology they like the normal response is to buy it up.  This either gives them the opportunity to silence the product so their competing product has a chance to take over, or it gives them the opportunity to integrate the desired technology into their existing product suite.  Here’s the problem… integration is hard.  Consider this:

Imagine you’ve built a 3 bedroom house.

20 years later you decide you want to add a new section on to the house because you liked a room in your friend’s home across town.  You could do one of three things:

  1. Move out of your home and build a new house that has the same type of room in it.  It is more trouble, but at least the house was built using the same materials in the same style and it has a foundation that was meant for the extra room.  In fact, you could then make all the other changes you wanted to make to your home over the years and get it all done right.
  2. You could buy out a part of your neighbor’s yard, dig out an expansion to the foundation of your home, and then build the extension onto your existing house.  There is a lot more work involved, but you can be sure that since you’re in control of the build from start to finish that it will look like it was made to be there all along once it is done.
  3. You buy your friend’s house.  You buy your neighbor’s land.  You then contract a house moving trailer to bring only the room you like over and place it roughly where you’d like the new room to be.
    messed up house

    Maybe they won’t notice??

    The room in your friend’s house was in the middle of their floor plan, so there’s no roof and no outside wall support.  So, you need to build something around it as cheaply and as quickly as possible because you spent all your money buying the houses and transporting the room over.  So now you have a patch-work house with a sagging foundation.  Oh, and the room leaks air so your heat and air conditioning bills go sky-high.

You might think that anyone who chooses option 3 would be completely insane… and for the record, you’d be right!  But the truth is, that is precisely what is going on when a large vendor buys out a smaller vendor and makes the attempt to integrate their products together.

“But why?  It is just computer code!”

Because it isn’t just computer code, that’s why.  It is thousands – sometimes tens of thousands – of hours of design and implementation effort to get to a working tool that does what it is supposed to do all the time.  If you need to know how hard it is to tell a computer what to do ask someone to write out the steps to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then act those steps out for them exactly as they are written.  If they instructed you to get some peanut butter and put it on some bread, grab a jar of peanut butter and place it on top of a loaf of bread.

peanut butter bread

No. Just… No.

Now you see how computers think.  They are exceptionally literal and specific machines.  It is an impressive feat that these giant companies have been able to integrate their products together as well as they have.  But frankly, it just isn’t good enough.  And here’s where we come back to the lie that we all tend to just accept as fact:

“There is no other way to do it.”

Except that there is.  This is where InsightETE strives to set itself apart from the multitude of APM tool vendors out there.  We’ve set up a cohesive framework from which to build.  While we will certainly take inspiration from anywhere that makes sense.  We will not be the ones to buy out a company to integrate their technology into our war chest.  We lose too much by doing so.  Sure it takes some more time to get something to market, but when we do push something out it is because we’ve tested it and it works.  Not only does it do the intended task, but it also operates so well with the other modules that you’d think it was designed like this from the bottom up.  And you’d be right.

This is InsightETE’s development philosophy in a nutshell.  Create and truly innovate, don’t buy and simply imitate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Bradford has been in the I.T. Performance Business for 15 years and has been critical to the success of many Fortune 500 Performance Management groups. He is currently the CTO of InsightETE, an I.T. Performance Management company specializing in passive monitoring and big data analytics with a focus on real business metrics.