Business Technology: A Thanksgiving Kiss To Our Reader-Partners
In this season of Thanksgiving, Bob Evans says thanks to the million or so readers who are the heart and soul of InformationWeek.
It's 6:48 p.m. on a Thursday night and as you're racing to finish the latest analysis of three global collaboration portal proposals you've been working on for five weeks, you suddenly realize that unless you leave by 7 you won't get home in time to say good night to your 6-year-old. Your heart screams go, but your mind says no. You start to log off, but that E-mail from your West Coast counterpart has 17 "urgent" icons attached so you take a look and it knocks the wind out of you: Several of their assumptions, so critical to your analysis, have to be restated because one of the potential suppliers is being acquired by an overseas competitor. Your boss walks by and waves good night and says she can't wait to see your analysis at the meeting in the morning. And you pick up the phone to call your 6-year-old, but before you dial the head of logistics for Asia drops in and says that he knows it's late in the game, but could you add a few what-ifs to your analysis because, well, Asia's a crazy place and "absolutely certain" over here doesn't always translate to "absolutely certain" over there and, after all, it's really just a little cut-and-paste thing anyway, right?
We've all been there, wrapped in the glory of being indispensable and swaddled with apparent respect while sometimes regarded with all the warmth generally afforded a massively redundant data-center server. And for all the pressures of the job--and even more, all the thrills of the job--the achievements against substantial odds, the steady separation above industry norms, the deeper inclusion in highest-level strategy discussions--your heart stays anchored not in your office but in your home. With the teenage son who eats 7,000 calories per day and takes 90-minute showers and whose biggest conversation with you in the past year consisted of three two-syllable grunts, but who last week gave you a birthday card that said, "Thanks for everything, Dad/Mom--I love you." With your 6-year-old daughter, who tells you without you even asking that she NEVER does an IM-ing with anyone she doesn't know, and who, when you call to say you can't put her to bed tonight, says, "Then can we read TWO books tomorrow night?" With your spouse--that priceless, peerless, patient and sainted soul--who over the phone shushes your apologies and promises to have a cold drink and a hot dinner waiting when you walk in the door but could you grab a gallon of milk on the way home if that's not too much trouble?
"Last year, a rapidly growing Midwestern manufacturing firm, with which I am intimately knowledgeable, spent $2 million annually on printing. It now leases an $800,000 Xerox six-color iGen digital printing press to bring the printing in-house. The iGen press will save the company millions in the next few years. In addition, the machine has much greater capacity than the firm needs. But this creates opportunity. The firm can use a Montana-based dot.com (www.printingforless.com) or a network developed by Xerox, to sell the excess capacity. In effect, the Midwest manufacturer is now in direct competition with its former [printing] supplier."
-- Economist Brian S. Wesbury, The American Spectator, November 2004
And so I want, in this season of Thanksgiving, to say thanks to all of you, a million or so strong, who are the heart and soul of InformationWeek, our reason for existence, our most-strategic asset, our most-prized partners. We all in this country have so much to be thankful for, and I don't mean to trivialize those personal treasures of family and friends and liberty and democracy. But the relationship between InformationWeek and you is one that forms the basis of all that we think about when we're at work, and all that we strive for in our jobs, and all that we on the InformationWeek editorial team have collectively spent about 500 career-years pursuing: a sense from you of trust, of confidence, and of partnership.
Along the way, we know it hasn't been easy for all of you to make the time to keep that relationship going: Between your intense work schedules and your equally intense commitments to your families, how in the world are you supposed to find time to read anything? And it's for that above-and-beyond commitment of yourselves--your time, your energy, your attention, your passion, and your trust and confidence--that I want to thank you. Believe me, we know it hasn't been easy.
You've heard it all, particularly in the past few years: The Death of IT. The End of IT. The Irrelevance of IT. The Waste of IT. The Tar Pit of IT. The Cubicle-Next-to-the-Bathroom Status of IT. The Sinkhole of IT. The Irresponsibility of IT. The Incredible Lightness of Being IT. You've heard and read about the vengeful paybacks from CFOs, the "never agains" from the CEOs, the shrinking enrollments in computer science, the scapegoating from some LOB knuckleheads who secretly aspired to be rock-star CTOs until they realized they had to know more than merely how to use Google, the tut-tutting at Executive Council meetings as some pinhead said, "Why should we pay for an inhouse team of cybersecurity experts when we can ship that nightmare job to India for a nickel on the dollar?", and so on and so on.
Lesser folks would have bailed. Meeker souls would have retreated to other parts of the company, or turned away from the field altogether. Let it not be said that a hot kitchen doesn't lead to very serious decisions.
But not you: You dug in. You dug in and you evolved, rapidly and radically. You evolved and branched out, extending your ideas and experiences and insights and passions into new areas: collaboration, customer intimacy, privacy, supplier portals, time-crunching, global scaling and staging, revenue generation, and relentless competitive advantage. You deflected the nonsense of the naysayers, you declined to listen to the eulogies trumpeted by the uninformed, you scorned the cynics, and you did what you've always done: took on more than most would be able to, hammered away at it until you found a better way, and sought not to take credit but rather to advance the overall cause.
For that--your character and commitment, courage and confidence--you, our dear readers, have our thanks. And our undying respect. And our promise that we will try to work as hard and as fearlessly as you do to help you create new ways for all of us to live, work, learn, and play.
Thanks for all you do, our friends, because it makes possible all that we do.
P.S.---Don't forget to give that sweetly sleeping 6-year-old an extra kiss.
To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Bob Evans's forum on the Listening Post.
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