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What is to fuel the next IT cycle?

Even if you have been in a protected job the past two years, you know spending is way down, as are projects, jobs and consulting.  In the 90's we had the internet and perhaps irrational exuberance.  In the late 90s we had y2k, which upgraded, updated and replaced billions of lines of code.  Both of these required two things: A large number of bodies and people with a technological need to spend money.  The internet gave business the need to be in on B2B or B2C.  The need to not "feel" left behind had them spending money to keep up with the Jones.  Y2K was preventative surgery.  Do it now or possibly die.

So we spent, and spent, and spent some more.  Then it was 2001.  People had updated their systems, infrastructure and even their people.  After spending "because we must." little money and even less justification remained for further updating. 

This discussion began in a thread on the future of "Free Lance" developers http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=39997&ixReplies=7
but wish to broaden it beyond the "free lance" to all of IT. 

So what is the next thing we will see moving the IT economy?  What will motivate your business or industry to act on it? 

Mike Gamerland
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

rebuilding IRAQ

With the size of the figures they are quoting for the cost of rebuildig, I want some of that.

tapiwa
Wednesday, April 23, 2003


>So what is the next thing we
>will see moving the IT economy?

Real business value.  That means companies that trade in information or data -  the media, entertainment, banking, and insurance  - will need IT.

Customer Service automation will be the next big thing, with CRM leading the bandwagon.

IMHO, CRM is a waste of time.  Why pay $50,000 for a CRM implementation when you can just give each Customer Service Rep and Sales person a check for $1,000 and say "This is for managing your relationships with customers well.  Please keep improving."

(The cost of CRM scales up as the business grows, so, generally, you can cut each person a check for $1,000/year for about 3 years.)

Then it'll be wireless, until people realize that 95% of wireless is just cost with no savings.  (The 5% that is real value will thrive: Warehousing and package delivery management, for example.)


Process Automation will continue to be the big thing that people don't talk about much.  I will continue to write programs that total up values in a text document instead of some tester importing the values in excel and typing @sum. 

Information Week will continue to ignore this, and a few consultants will continue to make a comfortable living.

And that's all my crystal ball has today ...

Matt H.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

>IMHO, CRM is a waste of time. 

I'm sure to draw heat for this, but, c'mon, look at any ad for CRM in a trade magazine.

Lots of buzz-words.  Lots of hype.  No metrics about HOW investing in this will save you money.

Spending lots of money NOW to save money later will continue to be snake oil.  IT's out there, and it's scary.  (Yes, there are good investments to make - IT is one of them.  That's what investments are.  But without metrics and proof, it's often just snake oil.)


Business Integration (.net-ish) will grow.  Big companies will invest in the kinda ERP-ish stuff that delta is doing on Joel's homepage now.

  Will it pay off?  The jury is still out.

  Me, I'm a big fan of pay-backs of less than six months (read the goal)  JMHO, though.

regards,

Matt H.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

India & China

doobius
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

2 words: Business Integration

Prakash S
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Many technology workers working in the United States and certain parts of Europe are screwed.

I have to agree with doobius. However, I don't believe India and China will be the only less industrialized countries experiencing growth. While some Indian consulting firm stock prices have gone down lately most of them are still earning more profit than their US and European counterparts.

One Programmer's Opinion
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Security: We will move to a completely sealed platform, as a last resort in shielding our digital infrastructure from ubiquitous electronic terrorism.
New interfaces: Yes, think little bits of "the Matrix", "Snowcrash" and its ilk, but especially augmented reality, robotics etc.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

>IMHO, CRM is a waste of time.  Why pay $50,000 for a CRM implementation when you can just give each Customer Service Rep and Sales person a check for $1,000 and say "This is for managing your relationships with customers well.  Please keep improving."

I'm not sure I understand this.  Is the $1,000 a yearly salary from the Service and Sales Rep or is it merely a bonus?  Presumably, most sales reps are paid much more than $1,000 per year, and you need many more to do the same job that an automated system can handle since it can work in parallel.  Thus, presumably, it should be pretty obvious how a $50,000 system can easily save you money as opposed to paying real humans.

agree that in general *quality* of customer satisfaction goes often down as automation goes up, but that's another issue.

Interested Party
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Bankruptcy Software.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I'm very bullish on hardware and devices. Small and large. Wireless and wired.

pb
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

As someone who lives and works in Toronto, and takes the two GO trains that recently hit headlines because they were travelled by a SARS infected nurse, I'd peg big growth targets on the remote worker industry: With the technological options available to us to today in the form of high speed networking, I see a huge growth potential for remote worker applications, consulting, and infrastructure. Huge office buildings full of thousands of workers, perilously vulnerable to biological issues (be it a communicable disease like SARS, the common flu, colds, or terrorism) just seems to be obsolete.

Dennis Forbes
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Soldering.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

"2 words: Business Integration "

Business integration has been going on for ever. This does not mean anything. Cobol to client/server to corba to web to BS. Centralized to distributed to centralized to distributed to BS. The common component is BS...learn it, live it, be it.

Tom Vu
Wednesday, April 23, 2003


Oh, and Health Care.

Matt H.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Re: on SARS... BIG government money right now directed towards biosurveillance systems. think "total information awareness" geared towards detecting disease outbreaks.

choppy
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

We're going to hear lots of buzzwords as new technologies come to the front, but I hope we'll see an attempt to find the effect of technology on the bottom line.

Statistical analysis and analytical thinking within IT will become increasingly important.  If you can't clearly articulate exactly HOW the new CRM system will impact the bottom line, and support that data with studies, independent analyses, and then carry through and get Finance to sign off on the savings I don't want do deal with you.

Show me how it saves me money or increases my possible revenues.

Lou
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

More generally, well, let's look at history.

In the 90's, IT went up.  Way up.

Around 2001, IT went down.  Way down.

It stands to reason, then, that the next direction for the industry is for it to go back up.  That means more spending on IT.  When will that happen, and will it go back to pre-2000 levels?  Who knows?  I wouldn't bet on it.

Okay, so what will be the heavy-growth industries in the near future, based on history?  That's a hard one, because a lot of the heavy-growth industries were difficult to predict.  Look at wireless, P2P filesharing, and defense spending.  Still, here are my bets:

We live in an increasingly unpredictable time, and America's increasingly aggressive war on terrorism suggests that this trend will continue.  Okay, so security looks like a safe bet (ha!).  This includes physical and digial security products, from alarm software to anti-virus scanners.

A common side-effect of war, stress, and unpredicability is an increased interest in entertainment.  Remember, the digital games (computer and console) industry had a higher gross income than all of Hollywood in 2002.  I've read that the computer/console games industry is in a period of rapid *growth*, and has been for quite awhile.  So, that's probably a good place to be.

That's all I can think of.

Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I have to support the business integration suggestion as well.  While business have been integrating for a long while the opportunities for integration and data sharing have increased while the time it takes to safely integrate has decreased.  This should fuel a more intelligent round of applicaion integration in corpporate intranets for the next few years.

K
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Plastics.

Mrs. Robinson
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

At some point human augmentation and augmented realities will present some serious challenges that will increase computing-related spendings. That depends on just when we'll all get tired of keyboards and mouses and terminals. Right now there's countries that don't even have anything to at least match the equivalent of country-wide pager coverage, so I think what ever fuels the next IT cycle will not be any single trend.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Sorry to be a party-pooper but there is absolutely no reason for IT spending to ibounce back up.

Take a look at refrigerators. Production mushroomed in the 50's and 60's as first of all the USA and then Europe started buying them but when everybody had one it tailed off and reached a plateau.

The PC market is more or less saturated. At the moment people can be persuaded to change to laptops, but there is nothing that is going to come along to make people upgrade hardware and software that works fine, as they did in the 90's. My desktop is a 733Mhz Pentium that is nearly three years old, and it is unlikely I will upgrade it for another year or two, if then.

The games market will still be there, but the programming work  is a prime candidate for outsourcing. Lunatic bidding for 3G licenses means that the European phone companies have not the money for development, even in the highly unlikely case that people are prepared to pay for mobile data.

Micropayments through phone cards or phone bills are the next thing, but there is little IT development required.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

game creation is not really amenable to outsourcing. games are produced like movies are produced. with a bunch of people that do different things, all together in the same area, working 18 hours a day for 9 months.  or at least that is how console games are developed. game PORTING is already outsourced. if you want your ps2 game to run on windows and the mac, you send the source code to some guys in russia.

choppy
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

"Access guarantees that you'll never need developers again"

To the contrary, Access *created* an entire new IT development arena.

Nothing warms my heart like someone predicting the death of IT, because it means we're through the eye of the hurricane.

"3G doesn't need IT"? I don't think so - I just look at all those Palms and PocketPC's and Nokia picture phones and see a vast empty expanse waiting for custom business applications to be written...

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

It will be something stupid no one saw coming.

Mike
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Dear Philo,
                You've given two quotes but neither of them are in the thread.

                  It is well worth remembering how many IT jobs have simply disappeared off the map, sometimes before you even knew they existed.

                    Data entry clerk; you'll still see the position on office doors, but dead as a dodo, thank God.

                      Back up operator. All redundant.

                      Web page designer. Decimated like a native American tribe hit by smallpox.

                      Desk-top publisher; killed by internet and the email. Many adapted by evolving into web page designers but only staved off their obsolesence.

                      Hardware technician; probably on the way out. There was a massive boom at the end of the 90's when everybody started adding cards on to their PC's, but now everything is on the motherboard and large companies have acheived such bargaining power in the market that it costs you 40% more to build something yourself than to get ir ready made.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Are web page designers cut in numbers because the need has gone away, or because the customers have gone away? I suggest it's the latter. I know quite a few web page designers that are doing fairly well. Sure they don't have the easy pickin's we all once enjoyed, but there's still work to be done.

I also know of quite a few offices full of DTP folks, though their jobs are evolving as we speak. I think that job description has somewhat merged/blurred with "Tech Writer"

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The next IT boom?

                    Y10K!

T. Norman
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I think we'll start seeing some real leaps in user-interface technology (not just in research labs, but in every-day software and systems that are used by lots of people). IMHO we are pretty much at the limit of what can be accomplished with the traditional WIMP/desktop interface model, and with the traditional hierarchical file system. Microsoft and Apple are already chipping away at the barriers to something better in their upcoming products.

Auto-configuring devices. Like Apple's Rendezvous technology - let your network devices and printers figure out their own settings without having to type in stuff like IP addresses and 802.11 network names manually.

The Year-2038 problem (32-bit UNIX time_t overflow, which could very well be more serious than Y2K)

Oh, and definitely much, much cooler video games :)

Dan Maas
Thursday, April 24, 2003

And better software security. I think it's pretty much accepted now that only the most strictly disciplined programmers can write C code that is immune to buffer overflows (and they all work for the OpenBSD project :). More and more server software is going to be written in "safe" languages and run inside of sandboxes. It's far easier to write something in Python or C# and run in a chroot jail than to audit a comparable C program.

Dan Maas
Thursday, April 24, 2003

The bulk of the technical revolution is behind us; the mainstays of the computer world -- the OS, spreadsheet, word processor, and messenger -- were invented twenty years ago and have little life left in them for new innovation.  I believe that a products company can only survive four or five years before the market saturates, the competition steals the intellectual property, or catches up to them on their own efforts. 

The long, slow, decline and demise of Microsoft is imminently predicted.

My roommate sees my pessemism and claims boundless growth in wireless and in virtual reality, but I see both as areas where there is more hype and flash than real usability and popular need.  The next boom will not be in information technology, but more like something like biotechnology and medicine -- where the demand is a matter of life and death, and there are no shortage of people in our ever-aging population out there trying to seek the elixir of long life and eternal youth.

The IT market will never again see the manic days of the IT gold rush.  What goes down does not necessarily always go back up.  But IT will continue to survive as an industry in which projects will be limited to smaller, niche markets.  "Killer apps" will be very few and very far between.  IT will be dominated by service and not product revenue.  And most projects will be downright boring and unsexy (at least compared to the overhyped promises of products of years gone by).

Also, there will never ever be any problem with making a quick buck off of people who are out just trying to make a quick buck.

Alyosha`
Thursday, April 24, 2003

That's akin to saying "everything that can be invented has already been invented."

The demise of Microsoft? riiiiiggghhtt. That's why they have $46 billion in cash, and why you have none.

John Rosenberg
Thursday, April 24, 2003

They'll need a shitload of that cash to fight lawsuits.


Thursday, April 24, 2003

The next big noticeable changing technology is the advent of IP based telephones for consumers.

That essentially means  a network plug on one side, and a phone jack on the other side.

When I say next big thing, it will certainly be a big change, but not really cause a large change in employment in our industry.

The IP phones also fit well with the advent of very cheap low cost wireless hubs from companies like linksys.

For a total hardware cost of $150, and a monthly $40 high speed internet connection, your local coffee shop or restaurant is completely wired for both high speed net, and the new cell/IP phones that will recognize the 802 wireless hub.

That restaurant does not even need to install a computer for that wireless hub. Every one present in that location can use their pda’s, laptops, and also those new IP phones.

IP phones are just now appearing in the production pipelines.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Thursday, April 24, 2003

If Microsoft falters, they wouldn't be the first multibillion-dollar giant to collapse.  Still, it's probably not going to happen anytime soon, although I definitely see them losing their dominance of the industry in the next 10-15 years, just as IBM no longer dominates (although they are still a big player) like they used to in the 1980s.

T. Norman
Thursday, April 24, 2003

Why should people use phones over IP when it is essentially swapping a mature technology for an immature one with lots of shortcomings.

Remember what they said about convergence and ATM - sure it'll do video, data and voice but a duck can fly, walk and swim; it just can't do any of them very well.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 24, 2003

VoIP + cable modem in Japan, Korea, Australia and the USA is already cheaper than using a standard landline.

choppy
Thursday, April 24, 2003

Cheaper for international calls, but what about the line quality? Maybe OK with broad band at both ends, but I still find Net2Phone unusable over a dial up.

And remember that in Europe and much of Asia the cell phone is taking over from the landline for voice calls and personal messaging.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, April 24, 2003

Was daydreaming through a really boring meeting, and had a thought.

Money will be in big iron. The desktop upgrade cycle is getting longer, and so money will be in big iron that delivers all these services, whatever they are, that folk are talking about.

tapiwa
Friday, April 25, 2003

"a duck can fly, walk and swim; it just can't do any of them very well"

but it can do 2 of 3 better than you and I.


Friday, April 25, 2003

---"but it can do 2 of 3 better than you and I. "----

Do you know what the first household appliance was?

It was the electric motor!

You got the motor, and then got all the other bits as attachments. Didn't take long for people to opt for buying redundant motors with every seperate piece of equipment they had.

I am speccing out CALL labs for my college and its subsidiary. Once a month I have to go through the argument of why don't we use the network infrastructure to show videos (buying an extra $30,000 of hardware per lab if necessary), and I have to explain because it is a lot simpler to get a video cassette and put it into a cassette player and send out the signal to a set at the front.

I suspect voice over IP may take off, though the actual importance of fixed land line calls will have declined to such an extent that it will not really be important. But if like me five years ago you went out and bought the most expensive voice and data modem on the market because you had been told that you could use it for internet, fax and voice mail, then you'll understand my reluctance.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 25, 2003

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