It's exciting to return to the IT industry after 11 months away. It only adds to the fun that my appointment to Computerworld coincides with the chill of a few hundred kilopascals of pressure whooshing out of the Internet sharemarket bubble.
Obviously, the dotcom entertainment is far from over. Parts of the market will recover, but I suspect that the recent 'corrective' deflation (coming since 1998) will help chop a few kilos off the bloated body of new economy hype. This change will suit many a seasoned IT professional just fine. No matter what the inflated expectations, building a truly e-enabled enterprise is a highly complicated, multifaceted challenge which just can't be achieved within an Internet year (however many days or weeks that is).
An old friend joked that while I might have returned to IT, I am still working in that part of the so-called old economy' which survives by printing on the cannibalised bodies of dead trees. I replied politely, of course. I don't agree with analysts who see a bright line' separating sectors which create value through distributing information-based goods and those that create value through distribution of physical goods. My problem with the distinction is that the old economy' is the one that uses IT extensively AND supplies most of the goods and services on which we rely. Are these goods and services going away anytime soon?
The extensive IT investment is reflected in Gartner's Dataquest IT Market Book which sizes the 1999 Australian Information Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) market at $US34.4 billion ($57.3 billion).
Meanwhile, reported IDC estimates put Australian business expenditure specifically on Internet technology (hardware, software and services) at a significant but significantly less, $2.6 billion for 2000. Add to this whatever portion of the massive $US16.8 billion ($28 billion) of the 1999 Australian telecomms market could legitimately be tipped into the Internet e-commerce bucket, and the picture loses some focus. I'd hate to be the analyst looking for the bright line', trying to separate e-commerce dollars out from the overall IT spend.
What is clear is that the dangers posed, and opportunities presented by Internet technologies to all providers of information-based goods and services are very real. Organisations such as our publisher IDG Communications should have long since begun experimenting, investing in back-end systems, and securing alliances to ensure their future growth. This work is well under way at IDG, and as a result Computerworld is extremely well positioned to deliver a wide range of online information services. None of this means we aren't fully committed to the paper Computerworld, which remains hard to beat for reading efficiency and portability.
It is my challenge to build on the excellent work of former editor Angela Prodromou to ensure the Computerworld editorial team continues to deliver a concise, real-world perspective on the latest information technology developments. I look forward to talking with many of you about your IT issues and information needs.
Editor in chief