11:46 AM

Editor's Note: Overrated Vs. Underrated: A Matter Of Perspective

Over or under? Those prepositions apply in lots of ways to signal whether we're hitting, or missing, the mark. For someone overworked, overweight, or over-the-hill, it may be time to ratchet back, slim down, or get current. For those underperforming, underutilized, under the weather-step up, speak up, rest up.

As in life, so too in business technology. In this week's cover story, which begins on page 34, we run some popular technologies and concepts through the over-under filter. Is vision an overused buzzword from the management-training circuit, or an invaluable skill that's impossible to teach and harder to find? Is knowledge management the best invention since quick-stop sticky cinnamon bun outlets at the airport, or a bunch of groupware functions that seldom get used? What about E-mail? A tool that ties you up-or the one thing you couldn't do without?

Not everyone will agree with our choices or the things we say about them. Indeed, your own experiences will have a lot to do with where these things rate on your personal Over-Under Meter. The point of this editorial feature is that perspective is all-important as IT vendors continue to offer constantly changing products and services, as the economy seems to brighten one day but darken the next, and as business-technology professionals are pushed and pulled in every direction in the process. The things that seem important or promising one day sometimes turn out to be less so the next. The opposite is also true.

Speaking of ups and down, you should check out the results of InformationWeek's quarterly IT Confidence Index. It's been heading steadily downward since we first benchmarked the Index in the first quarter, and the latest results-completed this month-are more of the same. For the year, the Index has declined 46.9%. And it doesn't bode well for the coming quarter: Only about a third of respondents had a positive outlook vis-a-vis their own company's IT budget and spending plans looking three months ahead.

But there are also glimmers of hope in the results. More than half the respondents had a positive outlook for their own company's business prospects, both now and in the near term. At the end of a year that has been both overwhelming and underwhelming, it's encouraging that so many people feel good about the companies they work for.

John Foley

Stephanie Stahl will return next week.

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Foley's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Foley, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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