Las Vegas Notebook
by Jim Bennett (May 7, 2001)
The Strategic Interop session still ranks at the top of my list by providing the high level overview of current issues affecting challenged IT organizations and businesses, in today's changing business environment. The four key topics covered were timely and well presented. Judging by the opinions that I heard from the conference attendees, these sessions were useful to their organizations. The topics were primary trends in e-business and successful techniques that have been used to make them successful; emerging technologies that have the potential to support e-business breakthroughs; what tasks should be outsourced and how to better manage vendors and how attendees can better prepare their organizations for the demanding new business environment.
I liked the segment on Best Practices in E-Business because it focused on what worked and what didn't work, while providing insights on what the panelists plan to accomplish in the next 12 months. The auto industry segment was familiar to me, but confirmed the IT direction the NADA (National Automobile Dealer's Association) is taking on web site development and the business directions of large dealers. The bottom line is that some dealers are continuing to play their e-com strategies, consumers are doing lots of web research, while the auto manufacturers are pondering what their next moves will be. It's going to get more interesting as the automotive industry embraces technological product changes while the economic challenges for the near term profitability intensify -- especially with $3 per gallon gas clearly on the horizon.
Wireless technology was showcased as a key emerging technology in which networking will play a vital role. Many standards issues still need to be solved quickly for both business and consumer sectors. Evan Deoul, the presenter, also agreed the diversity of devices in corporations is extremely challenging for the IT department. The employees themselves will introduce major changes as they use consumer devices in business, whether the company wants the devices to be used or not. Sounds like the microcomputer boom all over again.
On Monday, Ruann Ernst, CEO of Digital Island did an excellent, no holds barred presentation on Content Delivery Networks (CDN). He showed how to leverage new technologies in order to improve business. Different approaches to CDN were candidly discussed with real world examples currently in use. Virtual Private Networks (VPN) were shown to be a key to cost savings and better communications in the 21st century. Examples of revenue and expense reductions were remarkable -- some had savings in the several hundred thousand to million dollar range. I feel that more systems need to be focused on medium to small businesses where cost control is essential in these trying times.
A spirited panel discussion ensued on the pros and cons of next generation of outsourcing. While the topic has received mixed reviews in the past decade, system complexities, speed to market, shortage of skilled workers and cost pressures could make outsourcing viable, but only if it can be managed effectively. While the panel was definitely divided in their opinions, clearly changes will be coming soon.
Other interesting sessions, I briefly attended, included: "Taking Control of the WAN Revolution", "A Guide to Streaming Media", "Using XML To Support CDN, WAP", "The Next Wave-New Ideas" and "Concepts and Exploring The Outer Limits". I will provide some highlights of these sessions later.
© 2001 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.