It's trendy to follow the trends, say analysts

We need more women in IT. Now that I'm skating on thin ice, let me explain.

          We need more women in IT. Now that I'm skating on thin ice, let me explain.

          When I was a lad, women's fashions were a big deal. If the designers declared hem lengths were up, most women wore short skirts -- as if the fashion police would pay a visit. I still see articles about fashion trends in the paper, but it seems women respond differently now, mostly dressing as they like.

          So allow me to take a leap here and say we need more women in IT. While women have, to some degree, learned to ignore the trends, I'm not so sure IT has. For example, I just read that although MSPs are becoming popular, alternatives are cropping up.

          MSP, in case you haven't encountered the term, stands for "management service provider." It's a type of company that monitors your systems and network for you and fixes problems, or at least alerts you to them.

          I first ran across the term about three months ago. Assuming most IT shops ran across it around the same time, I doubt many CIOs stood right up and said, "Great idea! I want one, and I want to buy it from you."

          I figure right about now the early adopters are plowing through responses to their MSP RFPs while they search their souls, making sure they really want to go through with this.

          Yet according to someone in the trade press -- who was undoubtedly quoting some analyst from one of the research services -- MSPs are becoming a popular strategy.

          ASPs (application service providers) preceded MSPs in the trendmill. The original ASPs could only have appealed to small start-ups. Yet like a weather balloon with very little mass but a big cross section, ASPs were huge blobs on the IT radar screen.

          Most CIOs I talk to on the subject snort, pointing out that a) IT has been integrated into the heart of their companies' processes and culture; b) their systems are heavily customised for their particular situations; c) increasingly, they're depending on tight integration of their systems to accomplish their companies' business strategies; and d) what happens if the ASP -- generally a venture-backed start-up with negative earnings -- goes away? (This last one is a big issue: One CEO recounted an 11-week SAP implementation, the result of Pandesic's undignified withdrawal from the fray. You would think that between them, Intel and SAP could have managed to keep Pandesic running long enough to protect their customers, wouldn't you?)

          It isn't just ASPs and MSPs either -- thin clients, which preceded ASPs and MSPs, declared the trend in advance of market acceptance. In fact, pundits now proclaim us to be in the post-PC era despite the PC's near ubiquity on the desktop and the growing, not shrinking, penetration of the home market.

          This is the current trend in trends: It's a trend when a market analyst, desperate to be the first to spot the Next Big Thing, declares it to be a trend, not when the market follows along. Market analysts have become prescriptive rather than descriptive -- a dangerous stance that pollutes the discipline, putting them on par with fashion designers. But women have learned to ignore the designers and wear what's comfortable and looks good on them.

          We need more women in IT.

          Trend-watch very much? Send Bob an email at Bob Lewis is a Minneapolis-based consultant with Perot Systems.

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