"Never assume - it makes an ass' out of u' and me'." This has to be one of my favourite business catch-phrases, particularly when someone adopts a stern face and attempts to use it with sincerity.
In this issue of Channel X, our lead feature investigates the role we can expect the Internet to play in the channel of the future. I won't steal any of its thunder, but of all the issues facing channel executives from reseller to integrator, developer, ISP and ASP, Internet-based technologies are now squarely at the centre of our agenda. According to Channel X's US sister publication, InfoWorld, the hottest technologies of 2000 were XML, PKI, the Java programming language, VPNs, WAP, EAI, Web-based CRM, intrusion detection, application servers and broadband.
If you don't recognise some of those acronyms, you've missed the boat. But the more astute will recognise that each technology is having a profound effect on virtually every IT product brought to market. So whether you like it or not, our shared understanding of the term "Internet" is now as much about products, services and business strategy as the actual sites you trawl each day with your browser.
The important issue is we've now adjusted our expectations of the Internet in line with a few dot-com realities. Namely, Web-surfers are still reluctant to part with cash over the Net, and that's bad for profits. As a result, we're all suddenly and negatively "assuming" it will be a long time before the beautiful nirvana of online commerce becomes a significant part of the world economy. If you want to stay on that bandwagon, it's fine with me; but to recycle another famous cliché, your glass is half empty.
Have a look around at the progress of technologies such as XML and Java and you'll realise development initiatives are anything but slowing. One of my favourite orators on the subject is Sun Microsystem's Scott McNealy. He's one of the proponents behind a vision that says our digital future will see every electrical device connected to the Internet. Now, whether your fridge actually ever gets that Net connection remains to be seen. My contention is no amount of dot-com wreckage can stifle the development of new technologies designed to improve electronic communication - vendor share prices depend on it.
Therefore, the challenge this year for us channel types is working out how to harness emerging technologies for business gain. Whether you use e-business applications to make your business more efficient or take best-of-breed IT solutions to your customers, the dollars are still there. In fact, according to an IDC report in late 2000, the Asia Pacific IT services market was expected to grow at 18 per cent from a total value of $12 billion in 1999. High growth areas include IS outsourcing, systems integration, hardware support and installation, and packaged software support and integration. Each of these areas requires a high degree of expertise in Internet-related technologies, which is one of the channel's fundamental strengths.
Keep assuming the Internet as a whole is on the way out and you'll make a dot-ass of yourself.
Editor in Chief