• United States
IDG Enterprise Consulting Director

Musings from Readers

Jul 04, 20034 mins
Data CenterFinancial Services Industry

I fear not, I see not reason for fear. In the end we will be the victors. For though at times the flame of liberty may cease to shine, the ember will never expire.

-Thomas Paine

Dear Vorticians,

A short week, a short newsletter.

As you will be enjoying the July 4 holiday when this missive arrives (some have already departed, no doubt, as I write this), I thought I would simply share some of the notes I’ve received in recent weeks from all y’all.

We’re at the symbolic mid-point of an extraordinary year, one marked by war, scandal, plague and, remarkably, a resurgent stock market – a market led by technology stocks, of all things. Imagine that. Despite the fact that there is no conclusive evidence the economy is on the mend, money is flowing back into Wall Street and investors are enjoying gains they haven’t seen since the late ’90s.

Today, the jobless rate jumped up to 6.4%. Earlier reports showed continued weakness in manufacturing and consumer confidence, among other measures. Yet, stocks have shined. Amidst the first half leaders in stock gains are companies like – do you believe this? – Avaya, Williams and Corning.

Can it last? Is this a mini-bubble? Don’t ask me. In 2001, I bought shares of some tech bellwethers on the rationale that “they can’t get any lower than this!” Hoo boy. One company was then at $41 a share. It went to less than a tenth of that in less than a year. Until a stock hits zero, it can go lower. Trust me.

The really important question for tech vendors is whether customers are finally starting to spend more. The answer there seems more conclusive: Not really. We’ve seen no big surge and there doesn’t seem to be a spending tsunami emerging on the horizon. I.T. buyers are still like a bunch of teenagers without plans on a Saturday night. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to


Maybe the rising stock market will be the egg for the next I.T. spending chicken (or vice versa, depending on your world view). For now, enjoy the hot dogs, burgers, watermelon and sparklers – and this reader mail.

On the topic of digital rights management and Sen. Orrin Hatch destroying PCs, one Vortician wrote: “No wonder the motion picture “Dumb and Dumberer” was released. I have little respect for hackers’ malicious intrusions or those seeking something for nothing; i.e. downloading someone’s musical creation without compensation. Civilized human beings don’t act that way; that is in contradiction of basic moral values. It’s that simple. On the other hand, we have the vigilante mentality of invoking retribution, in violation of federal laws, as well as the selective invocation of litigation. It has the same ethical value as hacking. It’s another devaluation of ethical behavior in the 21st century. Stop the world, I want get off!”

On my recent story about the IP telephony vendor Vonage, a Vortician who asked not to be named said: “Before you get too busy promoting Vonage, you should speak to some customers.  I could not successfully sign up for the service. I tried several times, and every time there was some sort of execution screw up on Vonage’s part.  The company simply could not execute.   I got to wondering if they can’t handle me on the front end when they are trying to take my money, how could they possibly support me as a customer? I bought a cell phone for long distance instead.”

On the Vortex conference itself, Vortician Bill Baker, a Vortex speaker and founder of Beehive Wireless, wrote: “A funny thing happen to me on the way to Vortex; I waked into a Wi-Fi conference. For me, this sums up the spirit as well as the promise of an entire industry. Thought of a good metric, albeit ex post facto. If you review the videotapes and count the number of times you and your guests and panelists mention the word Wi-Fi, I’ll bet you will count more times than any other technology at previous events, including MPLS, VoIP, DSL, fiber optics, fixed wireless, etc. Whatever the subject matter or panel, Wi-Fi seemed liked the central theme. For entrepreneurs like me, that is all the due diligence we need.”

Finally, for now, Vortician Bill Sarine, president of PotsTek, wrote with a compliment – something that I never frown upon. “John, in a day of personnel problems, network committee meetings, financial

planning sessions and general day-to-day aggravations, your words on Hatch’s statements lifted me up. Sometimes we are so serious we forget to enjoy ourselves. Keep it up.”

I intend to. Enjoy the weekend!