Skip to main content
Trust Me, I’m a Prophet

“I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is much better policy to prophecy after the event has already taken place” – Sir Winston Churchill

Every cloud, I’m told, has a silver lining but over the last two years, optimism has been in short supply for any of us working inside the IT industry.

As a fully paid-up ‘Prophet of Doom’, I’ve been warning readers that the recession in the technology sector is still far from over and have found very little to make me even mildly optimistic about the future, until now that is.

Perhaps it’s something to do with Spring and the clocks moving forward but quite suddenly and unexpectedly, several of the ‘Bellwether’ technology companies have issued results that suggest the industry is slowly crawling its way out of the dark pit into which it fell when the Internet bubble burst almost exactly three years ago.

At the time, I was playing an imaginary stock portfolio on a TV investment show and had seen my £100,000 virtual stake quickly turn into £478,000 within two months of picking companies like Red Hat, Silverstream and QXL. Around the same time, I decided that the technology sector was trading far too high and so I jumped out of both virtual and real stocks in what was lucky timing as many of my friends didn’t. That same £100,000 TV portfolio is worth less than £5,000 on today’s market, which comes as no surprise if you’ve been following the value of your pension fund lately.

This month, however, I’m seeing encouraging evidence that at last, businesses are prepared to start spending money on IT once again. This isn’t characterised by a dramatic leap in company results but rather by signs that on a project by project basis business is increasingly prepared to say “Yes” to a proposal instead of “No”.

Given the decline in global markets since this ‘recession’ began, there’s a very long climb ahead towards anything approaching the profitability of the past. It’s more than likely that business will never lavish as much on its IT ambitions as it was prepared to do in the past, perhaps with government as the single exception, as it’s less accountable to its shareholders than the Directors of real companies, looking for hard evidence of that elusive metric called ‘return on investment’.

So there you have it. Simon Moores, officially rated as one of the UK’s most cynical columnists, is suddenly encouraged by what looks very much like the first signs of recovery in this most battered of all sectors. It’s far to early to celebrate for the survivors and for thousands of small IT businesses in administration, it’s far too late but let’s wait for the next set of results, later in the Summer, for Dell, IBM, Cisco, HP, EMC, Intel and Microsoft and see if the trend remains a positive one. If it does, then perhaps the first months of 2004 will finally see the end of the worst technology recession that I can remember in the last twenty years


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…