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Article by Mohan Babu


Working Abroad - New trends for new times

Iraq-war era? MOHAN BABU focuses on the predictions made by Gartner analysts on the scene in America, and believes that the same technology trends will be adopted in India 

The first quarter of 2003 is behind us and with the war in Iraq entering its final stages, the focus of business leaders is slowly shifting back to the fundamentals. Predictions from industry experts and economists are as varied as the different aspects contributing to the current slowdown (no surprises here). On one hand, analysts from Gartner and other consultancies are predicting that the current short-term focus on cost-cutting will lead to higher IT costs later. These cost-cutting pressures are leading organisations to “mortgage” their futures by “underfunding” IT infrastructure and application upgrades today, which will cost more in the future when the economy improves and demand for IT products and services increases. On the other hand, analysts from the business press, including Business Week, have adopted a more sobering tone, predicting that the end of conflict in Iraq alone is not sufficient to give a thrust to the global market. However, as an IT analyst and a columnist, I think it is my job to try to make sense of the method in the madness and throw my two cents out there.

In this column, we will look at some of the recent predictions made by Gartner analysts:

* Gartner: “The market for pure portal products will wither away, particularly as functionality is delivered in broader software categories such as application platform suites and collaborative technologies.”

I think this trend is already catching on in the industry, especially since most large software vendors are already starting to bundle their own “Web GUI” a.k.a. portal tools. Oracle, SAP, Siebel and others already either have Web-based GUIs or provide excellent “hooks” to Web enable the applications. Given this scenario, what is the incentive for IT managers who would have already spent a million dollars or more on the ERP or CRM application to “invest” in an additional Web portal?

* Gartner: “Radio frequency identification (RFID) tag use will sharply increase. RFID tags, the successor technology to bar codes, can be embedded in products, scanned at a distance and withstand high heat.”

Prices for RFID technologies are dropping to the range of 5 to 10 cents (per tag) Such tags can be used by retailers and manufacturers to provide after-sales information about how, when and where products are being used by consumers. As a matter of fact, companies like Gillette and Procter and Gamble have already ordered hundreds of thousands of RFID tags and are in the process of experimenting with such “smart tags”.

* Gartner: “Public wireless LAN ‘hot spots’ will quadruple in 2003, creating widespread connectivity for people in hotels, airports, public buildings and restaurants. This includes a mix of free and commercial services. By 2007, the public WLAN industry should grow to more than $9 billion in sales.”

True, public wireless LANs are already in a growth trajectory and a number of airports and café’s (including Starbucks) across the country are already “enabling” their sites for customers. However, this “build it and they will come” approach towards adoption of nascent technologies needs to be tempered with some reality, especially given the current economy and the focus on cost. How many individuals would spend a few thousand dollars (more than the normal cost) on a wireless device that they only occasionally use during travel or a trip to the local café?

* Gartner: “IT as a utility will gain momentum. By 2006, 30 percent of IT work will be done through this model, where organisations pay for storage, server and other requirements on an as-needed basis.”

Utility-based computing is Bill Gate’s dream and IBM’s biggest bet in recent years. Each of these giants is approaching this new paradigm in their own way. Microsoft by re-hashing (pun on C#) windows with the .NET architecture and IBM by bundling their entire software solutions around a utility-based outsourcing model.

* Gartner: “Online bill payment with banks will continue its sharp growth this year. Although only 12 percent of US bank customers do any form of online banking today, Gartner is anticipating 50 percent growth in customer adoption by year’s end.”

Online bill payment holds most promise for the near future. Most of us hate standing in queues to pay bills or even licking stamps and writing checks. Online bill-pay makes this process unobtrusive and convenient. There is another incentive, in order to cut cost and motivate usage, many banks and financial institutions are providing this as a free service to customers.

The trends mentioned in this article are global and given the pace of technological adoption in India, it won’t surprise me if IT managers in India too are thinking on the very same lines as their American brethren. For instance, utility-based computing holds great promise for India since most Indian companies (here I am alluding to traditional users of IT, not IT companies) are starting with a clean slate, not having to grapple with mammoth legacy systems. For them, adoption of a utility model, if provided by IT vendors, will be a natural next step.





About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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