Now Is a Good Time for IT to Take Stock

The current bywords are integrate, access and try before you buy.

Now that the stock market has returned to its 1997 level, its like the Internet boom never really happened. Unfortunately, that return to five years ago has not been a pretty picture and includes shattered investments, debilitated (or in some cases, evaporated) companies and tawdry examples of unfettered greed. Now that it appears some of those executives displaying unfettered greed are due to get real fetters to wear, it is a good time for companies to assess where they stand with their IT investments. The current bywords are integrate, access and try before you buy. One of the enduring truths from the last five years is that in large part the technologies worked and are still available, even if the companies that developed the technologies and the execs that tried to use the technologies as a smoke screen for illegal activities are gone.

The two sides of integrating your companys operations consist of figuring out how to build interfaces for disparate systems and then trying to sort and categorize the information contained in those systems. In this weeks eWeek Labs section, we tackle the second half of the integration issue: content categorization. Jim Rapoza, our East Coast technical director, conducted an evaluation of three categorization engines. For the latest in ontologies, taxonomies and metatags, see Jims review.

The try-before-you-buy trend is apparent in Dennis Callaghans update on CRM vendors. The high front-end costs of many customer resource management systems is bumping head-on into financial execs demanding a realistic return on investment and the need to deploy a small pilot program to gauge a system developments true cost of deployment. In one case mentioned in Dennis article, the need to get in at a small price per entry and see an immediate return led to a decision in favor of Salesforce.coms hosted CRM service.

One of the most aggressive business systems integration projects comes from one of the least likely places. The federal government, long thought of as permanent home of aging systems and warring fiefdoms, is leading the charge on IT integration. With the war on terror as a driving force, the feds seem finally to be ready to meld the systems housed in the many government departments in Washington. For an update, see Renee Boucher Fergusons article.

Which of todays technologies can you put stock in? Let me know at