Murdoch, Google and Microsoft

Rupert Murdoch anti-Google strategy seems to becoming clear. Previously, I was puzzled at his public stance, it seems to make no sense.

This Register piece, and there are many other sources, starts with:
Rupert Murdoch is in talks with Microsoft over his plans to delist his newspaper websites from Google.
Classic "My enemy's enemy is my Friend" thinking.
It's not really so, they are only a temporary ally at best with a fragile common cause.

The danger lies in your "friend" deciding they don't need you anymore or worse, turning on you once the main enemy is gone or the battle is lost.

I still think Murdoch's strategy is seriously off the mark.


I.T. Failure == Corporate Failure

Stephen Bartholomeusz writing in Business Spectator, 18 Nov 2009, on the ASIC court case over the collapse of One.Tel.

Bartholomeusz neatly summarises the root cause of the failure:
Unhappily, its billing systems didn’t work, so it piled up debtors, while its competitors responded to the cut-price strategies.
He goes on to say:
While professing publicly that the group was on-track to be cash-positive..., internally One.Tel appears to have had little control or understanding of its cash flows or the mounting issues created by its billing system
and finishes:
Whatever Rich might claim, One.Tel wasn't a successful company, unless success is measured by revenue, not cash flows or execution.

This is the first case I've noticed where the immediate cause of failure of a large, public company  has been it's I.T. systems. The root cause is poor management with an inability to execute - or to understand and control it's I.T.

The field of "Software Engineering" is 40 years old now.
How could this foreseeable and preventable failure have happened with competent professionals, especially if Software Engineering had achieved it's aims?

There is a multiple tragedy hidden here:
  • Software Engineering has failed to impress it's primary market: Business Management.
  • Educators and Researchers are not, as a matter of course, going to analyse this failure and use it as a case study. Compare the 1974 explosion at Flixborough or the 1970 collapse of the Westgate bridge during construction.
  • IT practitioners aren't going to be informed by their Professional Societies of the causes and preventing a recurrence.
  • Business Management and I.T. practice remains "Consequence Free".
If a Billion Dollar Failure isn't a notable event and worthy of preventing recurrence, then what is?
Why are ASIC, the ASX and the Federal and State Governments silent on this point?
If not their job, then whose?

Imagine if QANTAS had a fire at a maintenance facility and lost $1B of buildings, plant and equipment. You know absolutely the company, multiple regulators and all the professional bodies would actively investigate the matter.

They would be looking for "root causes" of this event, other problems, ways to fix the system, processes & procedures to prevent or early-detect this class of problem again and co-incidentally if any individuals were responsible. Not just front-line grunts, but if anyone in management  (up to the CEO) was culpable, negligent, incompetent or asleep-at-the-wheel.

The absolute tragedy here is not the loss to these investors (employees, vendors, customers, ...) but that nothing is going to change, that this massive loss bought nothing.

What is more galling to me is that nobody in the Press, Government, ASX, Investment bodies, Judicary or Regulators thinks anything more could or should be done...

Microsoft Troubles - VI, First Words

"On the latter, Microsoft is hoping Windows 7 will pull it out of a financial hole" by Charles Arthur, Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 5, 2009. First time I've seen in popular press the actual words "financial hole" w.r.t. Microsoft.

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