Trylon Communications  - February 2004

Tech Editors See 2004 Rebound

While no one was predicting a boom reminiscent of the late 1990s, a trio of top technology journalists was encouraging about sales and the prospects for new technologies during a panel discussion held earlier this month at the New York Software Industry Association's Sales & Marketing Special Interest Group (Click here for web site). The panel was moderated by Trylon Communications, Inc. 
President Lloyd P. Trufelman.

Although the three tech editors who participated in the discussion - Stephen Lynch of the New York Post, Erick Schonfeld of Business 2.0 and Josh Weinberger of Ziff Davis' Baseline - cover the tech arena from different angles, they all expect a modest upswing in corporate tech spending this year.

"PC sales are really the driver of all technology spending, and we saw a rise in spending on PCs on the consumer side this Christmas, and I expect that to fuel a rebound on the corporate side this year," said Schonfeld. He pointed out that a number of companies upped their technology budgets as a result of Y2K, and those PCs now need replacing.

The Post's Lynch said the mood was upbeat at the recent Consumer Electronics Show - the annual industry trade show where new technologies are showcased - and many of the exhibitors were emphasizing content over technology. "It is all about expanding content - there was a lot of talk about digital music and video on demand. While these are consumer trends, everything piggybacks off of the trends on the consumer side."

Consumer gadgets are everywhere, Lynch noted, and corporate technologists are certainly taking note of the trends. "There are seven million PlayStations out there, watches with MSN access and snowboarding jackets with built-in MP3 players. Nothing seems wacky any more."

According to Ziff's Weinberger, the next major desktop release of Windows may also spark a rise in corporate technology spending. However, he says companies continue to be disciplined about their tech spending, with an emphasis on making the most of current and future investments. "They're looking at data mining and data intelligence and other ways to make the most of their existing technologies," he said. "Expenditures have to prove themselves."

As an example of a company making the most of their existing information and technology, Weinberger said he recently received an e-mail from a movie theatre after using his credit card to pay for tickets. "I was a bit floored," he said, but pointed to this as an example of the trend of using existing customer data and technology to mine for additional business.

Voice over Internet Protocol (voice, facsimile, and/or voice-messaging applications that are transported over the Internet) or VOIP, is another example of a technology that is beginning to prove its value to those in charge of corporate tech spending, according to the panelists.

Schonfeld notes that VOIP is not a new technology, but it has been slow to take off. "VOIP has been percolating for the past three or four years, but this is the first year it is really taking off," he said, because the technology is becoming stable enough to provide a viable alternative to traditional telecom.

Another technology that has grabbed the attention of corporate technology gatekeepers is Linux - the free or very low-cost operating system comparable to traditional and usually more expensive systems.

While the system has been installed on corporate servers over the past year, and now many corporate tech gurus are evaluating putting the system on the desktop as a possible rival to Windows. "It has been a phenomenon on the server, and this year it could take share away from Windows on the desktop," Schonfeld said.