As our country begins what I can only hope is a new era, I find myself wondering about the future of our industry. Information Technology took a very hard hit in the Dot Bomb Crash of 2000. I was under contract to Lucent Technologies at the time and the impact there was enormous. Jobs were lost by the thousands, and so were retirements. Now, in 2008 and 2009, we see another financial bomb--but we also see a new vision.
In 2000, the world discovered that just being on the Internet did not guarantee success. Prior to that, business was doing well at moving money around, if not actually producing much. The cash had to keep moving or it would settle to the ground and people would notice that there wasn't that much new money--just the same funds moving in circles--redistributing. Maybe that is what finally happened. Maybe the music stopped and everyone realized that there weren't enough chairs for everyone--and panicked.
The financial bomb this time is a bit different and as I am not a financial consultant, I will not try to explain it--even if I fully understood it—which I do not. My concern here is the impact of this market on my industry, the Information Technology Industry. This time it seems, we are not dead center on the bull's eye--instead we are the arrow point. We went through our decimation and many of us retired, retrained in other fields or just gave up. Others stayed on and have continued to grow with the technology. It's leaner and meaner and there are far fewer of us to do what needs doing. But, it is also the foundation of the new economy to come.
New energy systems and a rewrite of the way that the Health Care Industry does business will be heavily steeped in Information Technology. Our skills are going to be in more and more in demand as companies around the world, and here in the United States, scramble for ways to create a sustainable future for our planet and our respective countries. We will be right in the middle of it. Are you ready for that? Are you really?
One side effect of the trimming down of our industry has been reluctance to invest in upgrades, to improve efficiency of systems and, most importantly, to create. Older equipment and technology are often still in place--in mission critical positions. Products at the end of their support cycles, that are still working, are still in place. After all, why fix what isn't broken? Money is tight.
Here is why you should fix it while it is still working:
(1) Because it IS still working. Once a component fails, you will end up scrambling to replace it--making bad decisions and building sloppy installations.
(2) Because new software tools, operating system manufacturers, (think patches), and other manufacturers of equipment, do not perform regression testing back to the beginning of time. If your operation system or other software tools are past that magical line in the sand, new—supposedly helpful—patches and upgrades could break your systems in unforeseeable and unsupportable ways.
(3) Because it is not about keeping your position in a company or in a market. It is about creating new technologies, processes and markets. The old ways don't cut it anymore and whoever creates a solution to a problem, regardless of country or marketplace, will drive the economies of the world--and of their niche in the global marketplace. If your company creates products or provides services, you need to be on the crest of the wave.
President Obama has asked us to be willing to make hard decisions and to work to create the new technologies that will drive the world's economy. I for one, embrace the call. Let's stop trying to make our money by moving money from one pocket to another and begin once again to create. You, the people of the Information Technology Industry, are going to be right at the heart of it. Technologists, look for companies that want to be there too. Information Technology Managers, look for people with passion. Let the wonder that first led you to master an aspect of the magic of technology once again inspire you. This is our moment. This is our challenge. It's time once again to have some fun with this stuff!