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4/14/2002
07:00 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl
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Editor's Note: There Is No ''Norm'' In Business Technology

Last week, I was having a roundtable discussion with a few industry folks when one inquiring mind asked, "So, what's the norm in the business technology world these days?" Hmmm. Now that's a tough question. Almost like asking why low-fat cheese doesn't exactly melt in the microwave, in my opinion. How could I possibly answer that?

Well, I could say that many companies are keeping budgets very tight these days, so there's not a lot of spending on large-scale IT projects (see p. 20). Then again, just a couple of weeks ago, we reported that Toyota is planning to spend nearly $1 billion on a new IT system that will help it fabricate digitally designed cars (see "Revving Up," April 1, p. 16). I could answer by saying that a lot of technology companies are laying off workers and trying to get more work out of fewer people. Then again, two technology vendors told me last week that they're increasing their employee rosters this year. I could say companies are more worried than ever about securing their proprietary business data, but collaborative business is at an all-time high. I could say tech stocks are starting to inch their way up again. Then again, it depends on which day of the week we're talking about.

Let's face it, in this world where human cloning is nearly possible but there's still no cure for the common cold, or where there are now more technology workers in the nation's capital than government employees, or where housing complexes in metropolitan suburbs that allot about four square feet of yard space can be named Meadow Farms (when there's neither a meadow nor a farm within miles), it's really hard to say what's the norm for anything these days. In fact, speaking of the government, would you believe it will spend about $52 billion in technology next year? Read more on p. 32.

My point in all of this isn't to suggest that the whole world of business technology (or the whole world, for that matter) is totally unpredictable or erratic. In fact, we spend a lot of time researching your business and technology priorities so that we know what's top-of-mind. Trying to figure out the norm is like seeing a sign in the road that says "Bump Ahead," but the road continues to be smooth. It's not until you think, "What the heck was that sign there for anyway?" when your car thumps so hard that it takes your breath away. There will always be surprises.

Does that answer the question?


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