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Computer Associates and the New York Yankees

Our columnist claims that the New York Yankees and Computer Associates have both demonstrated that they can execute.

Richard Ptak

There is no lack of companies in our industry with vision and strategy. We have written repeatedly that the ability separating today's "one-hit wonder" from the long-haul winner is the ability to effectively and efficiently execute on the plan. This takes vision, determination, focus, AND the ability to make tough decisions at the right time. The New York Yankees (no matter much we New Englanders dislike them) and Computer Associates (CA), once again, convincingly demonstrate they can execute.

Let's look at the Yankees first. Before the Series was decided, during critical play-off games, the Yankee management demonstrated they knew how to make and follow through with tough decisions. This ability was no more in evidence than in the recent battle between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Yankees management delivered, changing pitchers as soon as it became clear the favorite wasn't delivering.

On the down side, there was the Red Sox. The management response was totally different when their favored player failed to deliver. I am sure they had a vision of success and a plan for getting there. But as far as execution goes…the Yankees frequently battle it out in the World Series, while over at Fenway, fans cling to the hope that there's always next year.

How does this relate to CA? Some argue that CA will end up as an "also ran" in the battle for leadership in IT resource management. The argument is that a continually distracted CA (handicapped by accounting issues, shareholder problems and internal reorganizations) will stumble into second-tier status.

We disagree. If one thing has distinguished CA during its history, it is its ability to maintain focus on revenue generation by selling solutions to customer problems. This hasn't changed. Second, CA confronts its problems and takes corrective action. No emotional ties keep them clinging to a losing game plan.

CA reaps the benefits if the decision is the correct one. If the decision proves wrong, CA management responds with a new approach. CA laid out product and service tactics that appear to be working, as reported by Q2FY04 results. The litigation will end; CA has the reserves to outlast it. More importantly, they have proved their ability to execute on the tough decisions. They don't have to wait until next year to reverse the curse.

Richard L. Ptak is Founder and Partner of Ptak, Noel & Associates. He has over 30 years experience in systems product management. He was VP at Hurwitz Group and D.H. Brown Associates and worked at Western Electric's Electronic Switch Manufacturing Division and Digital Equipment Corporation. He is frequently quoted in trade press and is author of the Manager's Guide to Distributed Environments.
This was last published in May 2004

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