Don't call us, we'll call you

Times are tough out there but obviously more so for some.

Times are tough out there but obviously more so for some.

Two rather large vendors rang me recently, asking if I could provide them with upcoming information on their segment of the market which International Data Corporation (IDC) was to present at its annual Directions industry briefing, now in its 10th year.

The reason given in both cases was that it was too expensive to attend.

Really? At $475 plus GST for some genuine numbers on the state and health of the industry, I would have thought it a steal.

Aucklanders obviously agree. There were 65 registrations for the presentation in the Queen City. Around a dozen people turned up in Wellington, leading IDC country manager Dinesh Kumar to comment that the research organisation probably wouldn't bother holding the briefing again in the capital.

IDC is a sister company of Computerworld parent International Data Group (IDG) but maintains a healthy arms-length independence. It's not uncommon for opposition publications to come up first with market segment information, simply because they had a need and thought first to contact IDC.

Those who attended this year's four-hour presentation were addressed by six researchers - two from Australia to give the comparative perspective - and received a full set of papers and research graphs. These are senior and experienced researchers who live and breath this stuff. They're not necessarily wonderful after-dinner speakers in the mould of, say, a David Lange, but this is, after all, about content and context rather than entertainment.

From time to time, various vendors have questioned the accuracy of some of the numbers. They're often the same vendors who happily supply false numbers to make their position in the market look better than it is. That's particularly so in the PC space. And they're the first to ring IDC and complain when the researcher has to make a best guess because the numbers are obviously fudged. Double counting is a nightmare for a researcher.

This year's Directions was particularly pertinent because it focused heavily on the Internet economy, something which most businesses - and Government - are grappling to come to terms with. It was very clear from the research that New Zealand is badly lagging in some important areas. That's the sort of information the market needs to know so that, rather than grizzle about the slow pace of business, they can do something positive about it.

Directions is also about trends: IDC regularly extrapolates five years out. But in an unusual move this year, its Australian general manager of research, Graham Penn chose to look out 10 years in the server market, a singularly brave call in such a rapidly changing industry.

Later this year, Penn will produce the first quantitative research on the storage market in the Asia-Pacific region. No one has done this before.

Storage is the forgotten factor in the e-commerce market where huge amounts of data need to be maintained for business intelligence access and for legal reasons. Aucklanders will get the good oil on this and, perhaps, a dozen people in Wellington because they can be bothered.

As for the vendors who wanted something for nothing, bad luck. There still is no such thing as a free lunch.

Randal Jackson is Computerworld's Wellington bureau chief. Email: Randal Jackson. Letters for publication should be sent to Computerworld Letters.

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