Editorial: Any port in a storm

Editorial: Any port in a storm

Sitting on the dock of the bay might have been a time of quiet reflection for Otis Redding, but the IT industry is not experiencing the same feelings about the container backlog that is building up in the nation's major ports (see page 1 of ARN, November 2 edition).

Most people in the industry contacted by ARN said they had yet to feel any real bite from the fiasco, but all expressed concern about how it would affect them if it isn't sorted out in the next couple of weeks.

Implementing a new system to manage something as important as national imports and exports is always going to be a big job fraught with dangers. But having said that, it is surprising that such a major system has gone live when it seems so ill-prepared to do the job it has been designed for.

Luddites all over Australia must be having a quiet chuckle that the 20-year-old Custom Connect system has had to be switched back on in an attempt to clear the container jam. 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' you can hear them cry.

There is never a good time for such a backlog to happen but if there was a worst time then this is probably it. Christmas is big business for many industries, few more so than IT, and anybody that makes a living from selling shipped items such as notebooks and monitors is likely to suffer a few sleepless nights before this situation is resolved.

Let's hope the Australian Customs Service can get its IT house in order sooner rather than later. Christmas shopping is a stressful enough experience as it is and we could all do without the extra pressure that half empty shelves would bring - especially for those who are running a business that is supposed to be enjoying its busiest time of the year.

On a separate note, I must draw your attention to a couple of initiatives from our parent company, IDG Communications, which made it into the pages of ARN this week. While they are aimed at consumers both are beneficial to the channel.

The first of these is the National Home Entertainment Show, which takes place at Sydney's Darling Harbour at the weekend (see page 12). Now in its second year, this is the biggest show of its type in the country and the Friday morning trade session is a great opportunity for resellers to get a taste of the latest and greatest convergence technologies.

Completely dedicated to entertainment, you won't have to navigate your way through gardening, BBQs or bathroom sections to find what you are looking for.

The second is a new online shopping assistant called the Good Gear Guide (see page 8). While its mixture of category buying guides and product reviews is aimed squarely at consumers, it will soon have functionality that can connect those would-be shoppers with the resellers that are carrying the particular product they are looking to buy.

It is an ambitious project that has a long road to travel, but surely nobody would dispute that it is a great idea. You can never tell what response a project like this will get from the general public but, if buyers and sellers were to embrace it, the functionality matching buyers with sellers could be revolutionary.

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