Doing Business In A World That Will Never Be The Same
Like many of you, I spent the past week trying to comprehend everything that happened the week before at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I'm not sure I'll ever come to grips with it. But over the course of the week, many people made valiant efforts to get back to work, to move forward, and to keep our economy from grinding to a halt. Getting back to work, of course, has been anything but business as usual. For many companies--those directly affected by the disasters and those that are grateful they weren't--business-technology strategies changed practically overnight. Not surprisingly, security and infrastructure are being reassessed. On top of that, supply-chain strategies are being re-evaluated in order to strengthen links that might be weakened by unexpected events.
On page 18, editor John Foley relates how companies in many industries are rethinking their IT contingency plans. The days immediately following the attacks were characterized by quick decision-making and makeshift operations (see "Assessing The Impact," Sept. 17, p. 14; informationweek.com/855/impact.htm). The discussion now centers on how things must be done differently in the future.
Technology investments were on decidedly shaky ground even before the terrorist attacks. On page 34, special projects editor Eric Chabrow reveals our latest research on IT spending. One-third of IT professionals indicated that their companies were putting the brakes on IT projects. InformationWeek Research's IT Confidence Index--a measure of business-technology managers' outlook for the economy and technology spending--has fallen almost 33% since the beginning of the year. While 35% have a positive outlook for their IT budgets, the term "cautious optimism" has never been more appropriate.
Automakers that have spent years perfecting lean-inventory business models now are considering stockpiling inventory again. On page 22, senior writer Steve Konicki looks at how the industry and its suppliers are coping with the aftermath of the attacks.
Perhaps no industry has been harder hit than the airline business. The disasters have caused stocks to plummet, employees to be laid off, and a re-evaluation of IT and other expenditures. While some projects will be put on hold, new technology initiatives will likely be added, including biometric security systems and integration between reservation systems and government databases. On page 49, senior editors Jennifer Maselli and Antone Gonsalves explore this dramatically changing business climate.
In the meantime, our hats are off to all of those companies that have offered their services--many for free--to help those affected by the disasters (see informationweek.com/856/help.htm for a list of some of those services), and to everyone who has donated money, blood, technology, and other products to relief efforts.
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