Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pulses on corpses

Today I went to a very peculiar seminar. The presenter described how software as a service was gaining momentum, while IT investment was flat. Maybe it would pick up , he said, but no one was confident about that, in the half empty theatre where we sat. Nope, unless you're fortunate enough to pick a nice ripe niche, it doesn't look good for IT investment, it doesn't look good at all. Pretty much stagnant. The presenter's eyes flitted to the audience and back to his podium. He continued.

Back when the news was that advertising spending was flat, and possibly dying, Google and Amazon were about to take over the world but the Internet was something you just couldn't make money from. Advertising wasn't in fact dying, but some of the old guard were. Advertising was simply changing. And today it is still changing, to the point that

" the Idea must be embedded into the experience of the product itself. Once again, what we used to think of as advertising or marketing is pushed deeper into the organization."
Nowadays, of course, Google Adwords is considered advertising. Amazon is considered one giant selling and advertising mechanism. Advertising isn't dead.

Of course, the presenter is wrong about IT being dead too. He has been taking the pulse on near corpses. IT spending is on a very very steep upward curve. So steep we can barely keep up with it. When we are measuring IT investment with dumb metrics, like the IT outlay in businesses we track, we get misled; things appear stagnant and boring - when the world moves fast, and we don't.

Thing is, the notion of IT as a service, ad-based applications and the open source/gifting movement are happening all at once. We are using them all the time. For instance, here people once spent time and money finding contacts or buying things they would be better off buying elsewhere, or often buying inferior products and services, now they get it "free". They are paying with their attention. They are reading the adwords and looking at their gmail account and search results pages.

IT investment at the producer end is going crazy, in small companies (they all start small), in peoples' spare time ( got to keep the day job), and on college campuses ( Facebook anyone?) people are investing time and effort and are changing the world. They just don't tell us about it right away. Too busy.

Metrics are applied to what has come before. Now there are click through metrics - and Google searches are part of the establishment. But things don't stop there.

Linux and Google may have started it, but there is now a swelling, latent expectation among consumers. IT can get much much cheaper, ad appear free. Can't help thinking that companies that fulfill or exceed the expectations that have been raised will continue to do very well.

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