by Gary Beach

Most Exciting Era in Tech About to Dawn

May 18, 20092 mins
IT Leadership

I have a theory I would like to share with you. Here it is: the most exciting era ever in the 60 year history of IT is just about to arrive. My rationale: we thought that era was in 1998 – 2000 but we know in hindsight what happened there. Vendors sold and CIOs bought too much stuff that didn’t work from start up companies that failed or from established companies that oversold ERP as the magic bullet for Y2K. That failure from IT exec management, coupled with a six month recession in late 2001, 9/11 and the Enron mess ushered in a three year tech recession we affectionately called the “do more with less” era. Plus, CIOs lost the trust of CEOs and CFOs. And those CEOs made CIOs work off a huge stock of tech inventories purchased in the dot com/Y2K era before they could buy any more new stuff.

Fast forward to the recession of 2007 now in its’ 18th month. Though hard times for all, customers/employees/millenials/partners have demanded more, not less, from IT. And, CIOs learned a lesson from the 01 recession. This time around many started to prune IT budgets in January 2008 keeping tech spending levels in line with the firm’s IT as a percent of sales ratio. Doing so, they earned back the trust of the CEO. And, they prudently managed down their tech inventories to very low levels.

I appeared recently on CNBC Squawk on the Street. In prep for the gig, I interviewed 25 CIOs asking them this question “on a scale of where one says your ceo plans to look at tech investment as a cost to be managed or cut when the recession ends, to 10 where the CEO plans to look to tech investment as a key investment area when the recession ends”, where does your CEO sit.

The average answer was 8.5.

So you put together significant customer demand for solutions created by IT, low inventory levels, strong CEO backing of tech as a key investment area and I believe that all adds up to ushering in the most exciting era ever in tech.

Stealing a phrase from Mike Mandel, chief economist for Business Week, I am calling this coming era, the Era of Rational Exuberance.

What’s your take on my thoughts? Let’s get some thoughts going.