Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2002
It's Trust that Makes the World Go Round

Bill Gates says it's time to learn to trust your computer.

Well, I love my computer, if you can call it love, but I don't trust it and I don't think I ever will.

This is because however advanced and impressive the technology, computers, in my experience, remain as fallible as ever. Like people, they have a habit of letting you down when you need them most.

If I appear mildly cynical, it's because all the technology in the world has rather let me down today and I've just missed my flight home from Dubai.

And if anyone happens to know where my e-mails are going, let me know, because I certainly don't.

Reliability and trust are, however, two very different ideals for those of us sitting with PCs in front of us. But most systems are reliable most of the time and life is no longer the unhappy lottery it once was with Windows 3.1 and its frequent "Unexpected Applications Errors".

Granted, then, that PCs work mos…
It’s All About ‘E’

Internet threat to 800,000 in public jobs”, screams the editorial in the Sunday Times. “e-Envoy says that a fifth of public servants could lose their jobs over the next ten years because the Internet will make them redundant”.

After a long sleep, it seems that the Sunday Times and indeed, the Public Sector unions, may have just woken-up to the arrival of ‘Disintermediation’ and The Information Society? Take the banking sector as an example. First there was the arrival of ATM machines in the eighties and with them, came the opportunity to dramatically downsize the workforce. Then came the arrival of on-line banking and banking became leaner still, with some, like Egg, disappearing into cyber-space completely.

Eventually, most of the high-street banks will disappear, mine already has, and only those customers with acceptable credit ratings and Internet access, will have access to ‘The Bank that likes to say yes’.

What happens, I wonder, when the promise of Broadband B…
What We Do in Life..... Echoes...!

Well, the marriage finally happened, Hewlett Packard and Compaq that is, all $87 billion of a partnership, which, among other ambitions aims to kick poor Dell where it hurts.

Confirmed optimist that I am, I think it will probably be a near term and very expensive disaster at a delicate time in the industry’s history, but let’s all hope that the first year’s trading results prove me wrong.

The new Hewlett Packard, HPQ, will of course keep the Compaq brand visible on some products going forward. After all, $19 Billion bought the company some pretty sizeable brand awareness and thousands of big corporations still feel comfortable with the Compaq brand

What will go is my relatively new HP Ominibook laptop. It appears that HP has conceded that Compaq makes better portables unless this part of some hidden compromise. Compaq’s workstation business will disappear and in the Pocket PC space, you can wave goodbye to the Jornada in favour of the Ipaq.

In order …
Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls

The stock market needed a boost and this week, a universal sigh of relief accompanied Cisco’s “better than expected results”, it’s first year-on-year quarterly revenue rise for over twelvemonths and since it announced massive workforce cuts and rationalised it’s free soft drinks policy in a bid to cut costs.

Cisco is, of course a ‘Bellwether’ stock and I comment on it quite frequently on CNBC. However, before we start getting really excited and talk prematurely about ‘recovery’ in the tech-sector, I’ll grab my little green notebook and flick back through the pages to a few weeks ago to the programme that followed Microsoft’s earnings results. Then, I said that:

“Sun is flat, Microsoft is disappointing, IBM is wobbling and Compaq barely made it”.

On top of this, SAP had a 40% drop in income for the quarter and we won’t even talk about the telecoms stocks. It wouldn’t be kind.

Cisco could afford to be a little buoyant at its performance. It had, after all…
New Technology but Old Methods

eBusiness is THE game blares the latest IBM advertisement on the television in front of me. My wife wonders why I laugh.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM). We all know about it and many companies spend a fortune on the software that goes with it but why, I ask, do those who need it most, never seem to use it?

Let’s take Parcel Force or should I call it ‘Parcel Farce’. We all suspect, I’m sure, that a First Class letter is only marginally quicker than a message in a bottle and that second class mail is sorted in Kabul before being lost in Reading but you would at least expect the Post Office or Consignia, as it’s now called, to recognise a valid London postcode.

There must be a deep personal experience at the heart of this column you might be thinking and you’d be right.

Somewhere between California and Mitcham there is a £1000 package on its way to me. I know it’s on its way, because the American supplier “Cutting Edge Technology”, has told me, bec…
The end of history or the end of trust?

When Francis Fukuyama wrote ‘The End of History’, he was thinking of a new world order that followed the end of the cold war. One where unrestrained capitalism had prevailed over what we understand as democracy. However, mix capitalism and technology, I commented on a programme earlier this week; at the start of the Andersen trial and you also stimulate the expansion of two separate but connected forces: Globalisation and virtualisation.

Today, business is both everywhere and nowhere simultaneously and concepts of corporate governance, have, in a number of prominent examples, been discarded as irrelevant luxury. Twenty years after the movie ‘Wall Street’, Greed it appears is still good and business degeneracy is on the rise.

If investor credulity and the Dot Com ‘bubble’ defined the end of the 20th century, trust is an early casualty of the 21st century. Trust in governments and trust in institutions, such as Andersen which were once recognise…
Predictions - Who Can Say?

The wonderful thing about being in the predictions business is that one is rarely right in anticipating what one knows about most and uncannily accurate at guessing the future of things on the periphery of one's experience.

Of course, I have my own parallel universe theories, some tarot cards and a bag of rune stones that I use when I really want to surprise myself.

I should add, though, that flipping a coin is as good a way as any for predicting IBM's or Sun's results this year.

My bookcase has an interesting collection of "classics" going back to the earlier years of computing. There's Re-engineering the Corporation and Paradigm Shift, Release 3.0 and even an original Bill Gates' The Road Ahead, sitting next to Under the Radar, by Bob Young of Red Hat.

One of the more interesting books is Dvorak Predicts, by the US columnist, John Dvorak, whose big prediction is that "Microsoft's domination will come to an abrupt end…
No Smoking Camel

Sitting in my hotel room in sunny Riyadh, channel hopping between Arab language stations, I’m startled to see our very own town of Blackpool offering itself to the desert as the “Pearl of the English Seaside”, during the commercial break, on what looks like the Al Jazirah news channel.

Somehow footage of the English seaside appears a little incongruous when it’s squeezed in between vivid close-up film of the human carnage left behind in the ruins of Jenin. However, advertising of this kind, illustrates how the numbers game of cheap, mass communications technology of the satellite and the Internet, is increasingly unselective and frequently intrusive. After all, enough wealthy Arabs might even reject the charms of the Cote D’Azur in favour of Blackpool this summer, making the exercise worthwhile, as in much the same way, tens of thousands of gullible people fall prey to Internet advertising scams through junk e-mail each year.

Sifting through the usual unwelcome pile o…
Go Stand in Front of a Train

Sage may claim they aren’t worried by Microsoft’s expanding interest in financial software but if I remember correctly, neither was Novel over NT or Intuit, over Quicken and Lotus Development over Excel. Of course there’s a list of equally unworried other companies going back in history, which might make a pretty war memorial to look back on one day, when I tell my grandchildren that Microsoft and software don’t mean the same thing.

It must be ten years since I predicted that Microsoft would start squeezing vertical markets, one by one, starting funnily enough with Flight Simulator, as it would be a relatively simple task to crush the relatively unsophisticated and expensive competition without anyone screaming “monopoly” to the nearest judge.

Of course, every company has the right to compete but very few companies are big enough and bad enough to have any chance of competing head-on with Microsoft and winning. However big Sage thinks it may be, if Microsof…