Extreme CEO: Is There Anything Left to Invent?

Extreme Networks President and CEO Gordon Stitt posed this question today to attendees at the N+I show in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS—Gordon Stitt, president and CEO of Extreme Networks Inc., posed the question, "Is there anything left to invent?" in his keynote address this morning at Networld + Interop.

In exploring the question he quoted industry legend Alan Kay, who noted: "Perspective is worth 80 points of IQ."

Such perspective, Stitt said, breeds new insights and is at the heart of innovation.

He challenged audience members to look for the real innovators among the dozens of vendors here hawking new wireless networking technology. The question is, "Are you finding the innovation options that give you a competitive edge," he asserted.

The networking industry today acts as if there isnt anything left to invent, he said. He noted that the buzz at CeBit earlier this year was that there was no buzz about new advancements. And he posed the question to the industry: "Has the cycle of innovation been interrupted?"

There is a vicious cycle in which reduced spending leads to reduced R&D investment in an economic downturn, and in that downturn "the market doesnt give you credit for thinking too far out," he said.

But, he said, "The most innovative companies cant keep themselves from full-throttle inventing in good times and bad." That is in spite of the fact that venture capitalists believe that the risks are too high.

Stitt, pointing to the need for looking at the question from a different perspective, believes that the industry today is too focused on incremental improvements. "As an industry were betraying your trust (by doing that). This industry is too often plagued by lack of vision," he challenged.