Wanted: the Next Big Thing

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2002-12-23 Print this article Print

The only problem is, there is no next big thing just now.

Its hell, ending the year with a hangover, and as I write this, its not even New Years Eve yet. Oh, not that kind of hangover. The dot-com hangover. Its still there, like a headache that wont clear after three cups of coffee.

Hangovers like this hurt your reputation. When youre in no condition to apply technology to achieve business advantage the next day, everyone knows you cant handle your euphoria. They may even embarrassingly insist on a designated IT driver—like the CFO, perhaps. Its enough to make you want to drown your sorrows in another IT spending binge. But that opportunity wont present itself until the arrival of the next big thing. The only problem is, there is no next big thing just now. This is obvious.

You know theres no next big thing when the best Microsoft can do is to reroll out the Tablet PC and then be unable to persuade Dell to make one. IBM can be excused. Having given up on a tablet of its own, Big Blue is taking its Pepto-Bismol rather than go for another round. No, IBM is busy touting its grid computing concept. Grids are a great idea, but they go back about as far in history as, well, the tablet. Sure, there will be a few university installations, but for IBM, grid computing is all about something marketers call the "halo effect," something that gets customers in the door to gawk until a salesperson can get them to focus on something practical. If grid computing were a car, it would be the Dodge Viper. Meanwhile, Larry Ellison is so bored he doesnt even pretend to prefer selling databases to racing yachts anymore.

Against the backdrop of this ennui, Moores Law continues its relentless march, as researchers play with carbon nanotubes and three-dimensional computing. Therein lies the next big thing. But its not ready yet. No, were shut off from exciting IT projects until we can prove they will return a profit.

Here, have a fourth cup of coffee. And, say hello to 2003.

Can you handle your euphoria? Tell me how at stan_gibson@ziffdavis.com.

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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