Editor's Note: Using A Downturn To Prepare For An Upturn - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

03:26 PM

Editor's Note: Using A Downturn To Prepare For An Upturn

John Chambers, the president and CEO of Cisco Systems, tells a story many people will relate to about his experience as a father. In their early years, his two kids thought Dad was one smart guy. In their teens, that changed and, as Chambers put it during a recent conversation, in their eyes "I lost my intelligence." Now in their 20s, Chambers' children can once again see his wisdom. Or, as he says with a slight Southern accent, "We're back smart again."

Could this be a parable for the leaders of the technology industry? CEOs of IT companies were widely viewed as visionaries during the business boom of the '90s, as companies used PCs, servers, Web sites, and a wide range of new applications to drive ahead. In the abrupt slowdown that followed, tech execs lost some of their cachet. And now?

We'll leave that for you to answer, but this week's cover story (p. 34) provides the latest thinking about where things are headed from some of the top CEOs in the industry: Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), John Chambers (Cisco Systems), Craig Conway (PeopleSoft), Michael Dell (Dell Computer), Larry Ellison (Oracle), and Henning Kagermann (SAP). In a recent series of interviews, they took time to share unique observations about what they've learned and how they see things changing.

Collectively, their outlook is positive, both for their companies and for their business customers. If these guys are right, hardware costs will continue to decline, software licenses will be more flexible, productivity increases will continue, technology will better support business processes, and the overall value proposition offered by technology suppliers will improve.

Let's assume they're even partly correct. Now, juxtapose those prognostications with the economic realities that still damper IT spending at many companies. What do you get? Our story by senior editor Tony Kontzer (p. 22) explores that question in detail. We found that underneath the surface of flat and low-growth IT budgets, there's a lot of activity. Forward-looking business-technology managers are finding ways to move ahead with projects that, rather than being defensive in nature, are intended to position their companies for growth and opportunity when the business climate improves.

How much of what these CEOs have to say rings true? Is the concept of using a downturn to prepare for an upturn wishful thinking? Let me know how these stories relate to your own experience at the E-mail address below.

John Foley
[email protected]

Stephanie Stahl will be back 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.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll