As good as it gets

An editor of the Harvard Business Review has earned him the ire of the IT industry for basically stating that a business’s amount of IT investments are no longer proportional to a business’s rate of profitability. His recommendations for companies to spend less on the latest newfangled thing is obviously advice the IT industry cannot stand.

He does have a point – for example, Excel 97 has virtually all the features you’ll ever use in a spreadsheet, so there is little incentive to upgrade to something sexier like Excel 2003. In the same vein, you don’t need to go out and grab 3GHz powered PCs to run your office software. IT spending is way down compared to two years before. In the meantime, it’s become more expensive to maintain one’s current IT infrastructure, with all those pesky viruses, hack attacks and junk email everywhere.

But perhaps that is being to short-sighted. Admittedly, standard office software and hardware have matured to points of diminishing return. However, I see it as a next stage in the IT evolution – a shift to exciting new technologies, such as VoIP, wireless, web services, and e-conferencing. Beige boxes are becoming commoditized, but the PDA and WAP cellphone markets are booming.

So perhaps IT isn’t dying, but merely taking a new shape. At least we know that the IT industry won’t go down without a fight.

The latest sign that computers and technology have truly gone mainstream: a growing number of maids (or ahmahs) are putting a little IT value-add into their work. Along with cleaning house, they’ll clean the family PC too, performing regular maintenance tasks such as scanning for viruses and managing the family website.