EDITORIAL: Surfing waves of opportunity

EDITORIAL: Surfing waves of opportunity


Crises in the IT industry arrive almost as regularly as waves on the shore of your favourite beach and they do so with similar varying degrees of swell. Fortunately, these ebbing and flowing calamities bring with them a surge of opportunity that the savvy channel player can ride all the way to the bank if the wave is paddled onto ahead of everybody else.

Clearly, the potentially grim-reaping Y2K rollover and the subsequent Government-enforced GST represent the best examples of how speed bumps in the mainstream economy can assist the making of hay in the IT industry.

More recently, the increasing frequency of viruses carrying ever-more destructive payloads has again created a groundswell of opportunity as enterprise and personal users recognise how critical their data is. The process of securing core business methodologies, intellectual property and customer relationship data from all sorts of threats has been elevated in priority by the likes of viruses like Melissa, the LOVE bug and all their variants.

Executives at vendors of security solutions and antivirus software must have smiles from ear to ear at this latest "crisis" that has beset the computer world.

Of course, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This claim of there being gold in the pain of others is tempered somewhat by the clear realisation that Y2K and GST were/are good for services-focused organisations and not necessarily all resellers.

For different reasons, both deadlines were also responsible for significantly stifled hardware sales as they loomed nearer. In the case of these latest viruses, or worms to be more accurate, some networks have been severely damaged, pushing service organisations to the limit and putting strains on existing relationships with customers.

Technical service staff at many channel organisations were focusing on assuring customers that although the threat was real, unlike the plague, there is an antidote. The good news comes from the fact that a bit of good old media hype has created a sense of urgency about security reviews out there in customer land.

If you count the virus-fuelled security boom as the third enterprise IT emergency in the last six months to have stimulated the local industry, you could almost conclude resellers have just come through a crises-led economic recovery.

It was definitely fear, loathing and plain ignorance from customers about Y2K which created the environment of opportunity for those who understood what was going on. It well and truly struck a chord with the mass media and its tabloid "news value" perhaps rammed it further into the frontal lobes of Bruce and Doreen Citizen than it needed to be.

In the GST's case, it is more to do with customers being dragged by Federal Government handcuffs to the mill of change. While this time around the business community understands where the changes are coming from, it doesn't help to demystify the technological barriers to achieving the end result.

With the latest threat, this time to security, mystery again rules the roost and those who are in the know are discovering that there is wealth in wisdom. The fervour with which the world of mainstream news has attacked the concept of a program with the power to cripple information systems smacks of an opportunity for old-world media to get one back on the revolution that has left it behind.

Any way that you look at it, technological confusion amongst punters is good for the channel. Resellers - and we use that term very broadly - are the holders of the keys which unlock information technology's mysteries. In this case, chaos is good.

Some may see this sort of opportunism as being just a rung or two up the morality ladder from funeral directors, tow truck drivers and ambulance-chasing lawyers. However, the more prudent observation would be that it is more the coming to fruition of years of hard work, foresight and commitment to being at the cutting edge of technology.

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