NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Forecasting 2001

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Forecasting 2001


Randi looked at all the papers surrounding my desk at my home office. "What a mess, Bobby," she said. "When are you going to clean this up?"

This mess included all the headlines and news stories from the year 2000, from the non-story of Y2K catastrophes to the dot-com bust to the ever-lingering presidential election. You see, it's that time of year when all good reporters do year-end wrap-up stories and then write about what will happen in the new year.

"My prediction is that Larry Ellison and Bill Gates will become good friends," Randi said.

"Just kidding."

Verizon slow

One trend that seems to never want to die is the trouble users have with their ISPs and e-mail services. Several readers wrote to say that several days after spam clogged up the servers of the ISP arm of Verizon Communications, they were still having problems getting e-mail and sending it. One reader said it took four days for an e-mail to reach him.

Will all the troubles with Verizon and Hotmail and all the @Home incarnations go away with the new year? Will everyone have access to high-speed DSL or cable modem connections? Will those connections work all the time? And will the installations be quick and smooth? No.

Woes for outsourced

For years all the experts have been talking about how outsourcing is getting bigger and bigger. Well, don't tell that to anyone at Sun Microsystems. The company had signed a deal with AT&T Solutions to outsource its Global Voice, Data, RAS (remote access services), and US and Canada Field Servers/ Desktop Global Support.

Sun took a step back, though, saying recently that it's making "some course corrections to the original scope of the project," according to an internal memo. AT&T will continue to manage the global voice, data and RAS. But the rest is going back under the Sun tent.

What's sad is that the employees whose jobs were outsourced now have to reapply and interview for their old jobs. "I'm sure this may sound silly, but as with any open position we still need to follow the standard company process," the memo said.

Some employees will remain in their current jobs for another six months while that internal process of post, bid, interview, offer is under way.

In a separate internal memo, Sun CEO Scott McNealy debunked the rumours flying around the company. No, McNealy said, the company is not going to report an "accounting irregularity". McNealy also said that Sun is on schedule for its server announcements for the second half of the fiscal year. And, no, McNealy said, it's not true he played 300 rounds of golf this year.


Several readers have recently reported fulfillment issues at where items that were listed as shipping within 24 hours took weeks before entering the shipping process. e-mails to customer service reps at the company went unanswered. The jury is still out on sales at the online megastore during the holiday shopping quarter.

"So what do you really think the big story of 2001 will be, Bobby?" Randi asked as she kicked at the papers on my office floor with her spike-heeled boot.

Robert X. Cringely is a regular contributor to ARN's sister publication Infoworld

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