2010. There you go. Since the rest of the punditry world has taken to guessing when the current economic meltdown will solidify, and business-including the high-tech business-will get back on track, I figured I should join the guessing game also. Let's make it September 2010, to be more exact.
Here's my reasoning, with a special high-tech twist.
Banking technology systems aren't really looking very intelligent right now. How many news stories start out with the statement that banks and financial institutions are unable to even figure out their losses and debt exposure?
It will be a year at least before banks figure out where the bodies are buried. Add to this the difficulty of melding transaction systems as bank acquisition gains further speed, and I don't see the financial industry able to get the growth engine going until 2010.
So, that is the bad news. What are the reasons to think that high tech and the rest of the world economy will start to gain traction by 2010? The answer is new products, new services and new technologies that are now available or just coming around the bend.
In the hardware area, you are starting to see the availability of cost-efficient and easy-to-deploy data centers. With solutions such as data centers in a shipping container or a more conventional rack system that can replace your current energy hog, tech executives will be able to create an ROI that even a financial officer can love.
On the other side of the hardware equation are mobile devices and ubiquitous wireless networks that will allow companies to easily distribute their work force and sales force.
Many of these products are here now, but companies will need a year of working out those ROI equations and testing prototypes before making a cash commitment.
On the software side, much of the discussion is about clouds and virtualized computing environments. However, even more than hardware, big software bets take time.
Customers want to feel that their answers about security, ownership of corporate information and protection of customer data are exhaustively answered before they consider letting a cloud replace their old, but reliable data infrastructure. Those customers want to talk to early adopters, train their developers and deploy a piece of a cloud before going all the way.
Outside of the traditional software and hardware industries, I think 2010 will also be a robust period of new technology introduction. Much of the U.S. and world economy continues to be driven by the automotive industry, and by 2010 we should start seeing automobiles that are fuel-efficient, priced to sell and appealing in design-all factors currently missing from the auto lineup.
Also, all that investment that Silicon Valley has been directing toward new technology-much of it green-should be translated to products coming on the market in, you guessed it, 2010.
So there you have it-my guess for when the current mess will be a historical memory like the dot-com bubble is. Mark it on your calendar. And, if I am proven wrong in September 2010, I'll be happy to give you a new date.
Editor at Large Eric Lundquist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.