mnot’s blog

Design depends largely on constraints.” — Charles Eames

Saturday, 10 May 2003

IT Survey in the Economist

If you are in “the industry,” you owe it to yourself to go out and pick up a copy of this week’s Economist. Alongside their customary digs at Larry Ellison (what do they have against that guy? I can’t imagine…) are several excellent articles, including topics such as growth, commoditisation, and open standards (although one paragraph was so far off-base that it made me LOL).

There’s also an interesting article on using history to determine coming trends in IT, which is something I’d like to see more of. However, it talks (as many articles in the survey do) about the coming predominence of consulting and services. While I don’t have a problem in this view itself, it’s questionable journalism when their graphic is sourced from IBM, who are well-known for viewing pretty much everything as a consulting opportunity.

None of this is exactly new news, but it is well-stated and thought through, in typical Economist style. The best bit so far (haven’t quite finished):

So are the IT industry’s best days yet to come? There are still plenty of opportunities, but if the example of the railways is anything to go by, most IT firms will have to make do with a smaller piece of the pie. As this newspaper (then called The Economist, Weekly Commercial Times, Bankers’ Gazette, and Railway Monitor) observed in 1857: “It is a very sad thing unquestionably that railways, which mechanically have succeeded beyond anticipation and are quite wonderful for their general utility and convenience, should have failed commercially.”

Brad DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, puts it somewhat more succinctly: “I am optimistic about technology, but not about profits.”

You can read the rest of the articles in the survey by following the links in the “Related Items” sidebar, but it’s quite long.