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Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: Some Light Ahead After A Long Year

As we publish our last issue of 2003, it's nice to bring a bit of good news. InformationWeek Research's December IT Confidence Index reached its highest level since we began surveying business-technology managers nearly three years ago. The Conference Board Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose a healthy 0.3% last month, supporting widespread beliefs that the economic rebound will grow in 2004. And the U.S. Commerce Department issued Digital Economy 2003, its fourth annual report on technology and the economy, which showed that spending on IT is growing at twice the rate of the economy.

Commerce estimates that real gross domestic product grew 2.9% this year and that more than one-fourth of that came from IT-producing industries. Phil Bond, the agency's undersecretary, couldn't have said it better: "There's a growing appreciation of how much more competitive an IT-intensive company is."

Rather than reflect on the year that's about to be behind us, we're devoting the bulk of this issue to the road ahead: for IT spending; for potential industry-transforming technologies such as RFID; and, beginning on p. 32, we introduce some of the many influential people who we think will make notable contributions to business innovation through the use of technology in 2004.

There's an exec hoping to create a "technology epicenter" in the South; a tech veteran who's trying to make bureaucracy work more efficiently; a CEO trying to spread some virtual enlightenment around IT services; a CIO who's wiring up Cleveland; a chairman who's transformed his company from a seller of consumer software to a provider of highly strategic security software; a pioneer in the travel industry; a legal eagle who helps protect software buyers; a CIO pushing "wholesale in a box"; a state CIO helping other CIOs; an impatient chief technology officer who wants to build a radio from ordinary silicon; and a CIO whose job affects a lot of lives.

Happy holidays.

Stephanie Stahl

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

To find out more about Stephanie Stahl, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

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