Offshore players: Keep an eye on companies such as Indias Wipro, which at $900 million in sales will continue to be a top beneficiary of outsourcing in 2004. And dont overlook Chinas Legend Computer, which is contemplating how to focus the design and manufacturing skills it has honed in the Chinese market on realms outside its national borders. Services built on the infrastructure: In 2003, we saw companies such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite prosper not because they were the first to think of new ways to deliver business applications as services, but because all the infrastructure pieces were finally in place to deliver those services. The further expansion of the worldwide network, with better security, augurs in favor of another strong year. The addition of proof that you can build successful companies using the global network opens the way for 2004 to be the year of the technology service company. The use of services over the network can take many forms: outsourcing previously U.S.-based software operations, migrating business applications to the Web services arena or using new services that are being built on the expanding wireless network. Id be willing to bet that nearly every company with a substantial technology infrastructure will run some part of those operations outside the companys walls in 2004.The dot-com bubble showed us what happens when technology is deployed without purpose. The subsequent three-year implosion in tech spending showed us how much we can do without and how to make more efficient use of what we have. In 2004, we should see new technologies deployed with a sense of business purposeand with the prospect that the promise of competitive advantage through technology will be kept. Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist can be reached at email@example.com.
The next 12 months hold the promise of technology being used in companies to provide real benefits to the customers, investors, employees and owners of those companies.