Executives at integration tools vendor Tibco have doubtless been watching recent events at bankrupt US energy giant Enron with some interest. Many of them will have thought back to the company's 2001 user conference, Strategic Directions 2001, where the Tibco's most important customers were addressed by Jeffrey Skilling, the then-president and CEO of Enron.
The subject of Skilling's speech was the ‘de-integration' of business: "Traditional business models are slow-moving, rigid and tightly vertically integrated. The next trend is de-integration, where companies will move to a business model more similar to Enron's," Skilling predicted. With Enron now the subject of biggest bankruptcy ever, it seems unlikely that other companies will want to emulate its business model. Perhaps Skilling should have focused more carefully on the disintegration of business.
But Tibco is clearly not the only technology company to have been fooled by Enron's claims to business excellence. Executives at PC and server giant Compaq must be smarting since Kenneth Lay, chief executive of Enron at the time of its collapse, was forced to stand down from Compaq's board of directors in January 2001.
But the embarrassment this must have caused Compaq executives was clearly not sufficient to persuade them to remove an Enron case study, which explained the substantial contribution that Compaq technology had made to Enron's success, from the company's web site.