Opinion: Georgina

Phew - what a year! I think the channel is breathing a collective sigh of relief that the heralded Year 2000 is drawing to a close and we can get on with business.

The end of the year is always a good time to wax lyrical about the past 12 months, but since when has the IT industry been one to stick with tradition? Everyone is already looking to the new year in the hope sales will pick up and stay that way, undisturbed by sporting events or tax systems.

The factors influencing the market this year have done far more than sway sales - they have dominated the industry, throwing upgrade cycles and cashflow out the window as businesses of all classifications scrambled to deal with one event after the other. But while IT has probably been the more obviously affected and reported, it is easy to forget that everybody has been along for the ride. It was a function of the year in general. Think about it - didn't your personal life lurch from one momentous event to the next? This year has been a year of incredible highs and lows. For everybody, not just the channel.

At least we can console ourselves that incoming technology will continue to drive sales in the New Year. It is the advantage the channel has over, say, the building industry which experienced its lowest point in the home construction market in 20 years during September. And yes, they are blaming GST introduction and the Olympics.

That darned GST is likely to continue being the bane of business life for the next few months. Technically, we are all still in the shakedown period for the new tax system. Unfortunately, the three-monthly BAS merry-go-round is having a severe effect on the cashflow of many SMEs - an increasingly lucrative market for the channel. So those highs and lows look set to continue.

The next six months should be pretty exciting for the PC market as the race to maintain the mantle of fastest PC processor vendor hots up. Intel plans to ramp its P4 processor up to 2GHz "as soon as possible". Wireless technology, which has only just found its feet as a serious business tool, will also help drive sales next year. It may take a while to get the momentum going again, but things may just get back to normal by halfway through next year.

That is, until election.......

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