Symantec continues to bet on R&D

BusinessWeek laments the state of innovation in Silicon Valley, but at least one established company is willing to take a gamble in new areas.

Jon Oltsik
Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group. He is not an employee of CNET.
Jon Oltsik

Everyone in the technology industry should be sure to read this recent article in BusinessWeek that discusses current problems with the Silicon Valley business model and ideas for improvement. The article suggests that VCs and many firms are too concerned with short-term financial exit strategies rather than real investment in R&D.

Just after I read this article, I happened to meet with Symantec about a new project coming out of its internal incubator called Go Everywhere. Go Everywhere is an online workspace that actually aggregates other services from Web sites like Box.net, Google, and Zoho. In other words, Symantec is using its IT management skills to consolidate available Web resources into a manageable personal online workspace for business users. Pretty cool stuff.

This is not your father's Symantec. The company is branching out, experimenting with R&D dollars, and using the Web to build a beta program--a far cry from its reputation for antivirus and backup alone. What's more, Symantec readily admits that Go Everywhere may never become a product, but it remains willing to invest. The company figures it needs to take risks like this to find its next growth area.

In these uncertain times, it is easy to streamline budgets, cancel projects, and lay off employees, but it take real guts to invest in the future. For the good of the industry, I hope more tech firms and VCs follow Symantec's lead.