From the Publisher

FRAMINGHAM (04/03/2000) - In spring 1997, I was on a global speaking tour. Much of the content I used on the tour came from the research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), a sister company to CIO. A key 1997 IDC prediction that caught the attention of my audience was that by the year 2000, shipments of internet access devices would dwarf shipments of personal computers.

I had not thought of that IDC prediction until I recently had an intriguing visit with Michael Capellas, president and CEO (and former CIO) of Compaq, prior to his Windows 2000 Expo keynote in San Francisco.

During his speech, Capellas took a page from IDC's prediction when he said, "The market will not be talking about personal computers for very long." Before his keynote, Compaq marketing people distributed material about a new computing device they call the iPaq. The term personal computer appeared nowhere in the descriptive piece. Skeptics will say this was a Compaq marketing strategy designed to distance the company from a market segment where success has been elusive in recent years. If the iPaq looks like a PC and is configured like a PC (more or less), it must be a PC, right? That string of questions, however, is irrelevant.

What is relevant is this: In the not so distant future, CIOs will not be talking about PCs, correctly fulfilling Capellas' prediction. In an era of just-in-time information where a company's infrastructure will be the face of its brand to customers, the four areas CIOs will be talking about are bandwidth, storage, reliability and services. Remember those words.

Do you have enough bandwidth to enable the intranet, extranet and internet applications you will need to remain competitive? Storage is not about storing information; it is about retrieving it. What's your storage strategy? Do you even have one?

The most interesting aspect of watching the year 2000 arrive was viewing its reception in 24 time zones. In this coming age of global e-business, a 24/7 reliability strategy is digitally myopic. To compete, the new mantra is 24/24/7. Who are your strategic partners? To perform at the level you must, you cannot do it all alone. Picking the right services partners could be the most important decision you make in the coming days.

For the foreseeable future, the world of the CIO will beat to the four-part rhythm of bandwidth, storage, reliability and services.

So what about PCs? They'll still be around. But the term personal computer will become less and less relevant to CIOs and their business strategy. By the end of 2001, what we know as personal computers will be marketed free to CIOs as front-end information access devices for bandwidth, storage, reliability and services.

It may happen even sooner. What are your thoughts? Let me know at gbeach@cio.com.

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