​Among enterprise tech giants, pragmatic innovation takes over

A manufacturing collaboration between Intel and ARM would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Turns out a lot of unthinkable alliances are forming in enterprise tech. Welcome to the pragmatic innovation era.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Intel's ARM partnership would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Intel's developer powwow last week featured a bevy of moves that were summed up with a simple word "pragmatism." And that approach is increasingly being seen among enterprise technology giants and ultimately this pragmatic innovation approach is likely to be good for customers.

First, the quick Intel Developer Forum recap. The biggest news was that Intel and ARM will collaborate more closely and accept ARM processors in its foundries. The move opens manufacturing business for Intel, but also acknowledges that the chip giant's mobile standing isn't what it had hoped. Intel also reached out more to partners and developers. Sure there were interesting efforts such as virtual and augmented reality as well as visual processing, but the general theme was pragmatic innovation.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Matthew Ramsay said in a research note:

We left with two key impressions: 1) Intel's breadth of innovation across CPU, n-node silicon, memory, modem, fabric, FPGA, and software continues to diversify at scale and 2) we find a refreshing relatively new sense of market pragmatism from CEO Brian Krzanich and recently hired Murthy Renduchintala (from Qualcomm) regarding Intel's competitiveness in key markets and around use of internal/external IP.

Many analysts noted that Intel's ARM partnership would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Now this tale could end as a Intel pragmatism riff that highlights how the company is focused on the data center and new markets such as the Internet of things. However, Intel's pragmatic approach is just one example of how enterprise tech giants are realizing they can't own the stack. Consider:

  • IBM and Cisco are knitting together their collaboration wares when the two have competed for years.
  • And speaking of Cisco. The networking giant is increasingly realizing that it has to be a software-based company. As a result, Cisco is cutting 5,500 jobs in its slower growth business and reinvesting in security, IoT, collaboration, next-generation data center, and cloud. CEO Chuck Robbins said Cisco will "reinvest substantially all of the cost savings from these actions back into the businesses, and we'll continue to aggressively invest to focus on our areas of future growth."
  • Salesforce and Microsoft have a partnership that is increasingly melding their tools together even though the two companies increasingly compete. The two companies even were competing to buy LinkedIn.
  • Microsoft has been about as pragmatic as they come. Microsoft has become a key player in the open source community and has developed Office well on Apple's iOS and Android. Microsoft used to be tied to Windows. With Azure and a strategy that revolves around productivity, Windows is almost an afterthought for Microsoft.

You can find plenty of other pragmatic moves as trends like the cloud force technology companies to stitch their wares together more easily. Add it up and you can almost imagine someone cooking up another cringe worthy technology buzzword: Pragmatovation.

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