The acronym is IT

The acronym is IT

The IT industry should be proud of its acronyms. The only trick is knowing when to let them go when we've worn them out.

I'm speaking here of such favourites as ERP, CRM, VoIP, TCP/IP, SNA, SAN, WAN, LAN, ISP, ISV. The list goes on.

Of all the acronyms, however, a single letter has stood out from the crowd this year. If you can appreciate the Sesame Street humour, 1999 was brought to you by the letter `e'.

As time has progressed, `e-nabling' your business and that of your customers has become one of the most legitimate business management practices. To recycle an IBM truism, no one gets sacked for wanting to build an e-business.

But, (there's always a but) like every good acronym, it must succumb to the peer pressure of IT fashion.

That's right, the e-word is about to die and become relegated to history as the great IT revolution of the late 1990s.

The problem is once you have finished `e-nabling' all your customers' businesses some time next year, e-business just becomes a longer way of describing the normal way to conduct business.

Exactly the same thing happened to the Internet. `The Internet' was once the buzz itself, but now it is simply a utility we use every day and take for granted.

In the same way, the channel will move on from creating e-business solutions to helping customers leverage their e-business technologies to gain competitive advantage and build profits.

As a result, it seems to me we need to find our next golden child. What we need is a new acronym, and ASP is the current favourite. As I argued last week, ASPs represent new partnering opportunities for the channel. In addition, ASPs give integrators, VARs and resellers another way to build their businesses around services and consulting, not product margins (see our ASP feature on page 57).

The really interesting thing to observe is how companies carefully reposition themselves in the light of this, or any other new business acronym or trend.

NetStar is a good case in point (page 1). Kent Brooks now describes the network integrator as a `services solutions provider' because of its ability to understand the customer's business and recommend the right solution. Simply posing as a `network integration' company is too simplistic.

Another interesting example is provided by Siltek Asia Pacific MD Hugh Evans, who describes what we might otherwise call a distribution company a specialist in `supply chain management'. For vendors looking to outsource their entire logistics and fulfilment operations, this approach is ideal. For the reseller, it implies you will get better service and support.

The term also gives the impression a distributor cares about the performance of the entire supply chain.

So getting back to e-business, I can't wait to see what IBM's marketing department will do next to reposition the company. The `e' campaign has arguably been so successful it will take IBM a long time to convince us it is not trapped in `e-world'.

What's your view of the world? Let me know what you think will be the next big acronym (that's NBA in case you missed it), and I promise not to tell International Business Machines, or any other vendor with an acronym to its name.

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