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Trend overload (first appeared in InfoWorld)

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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, acting as if the fashion police would pay a visit.

I still see articles about fashion trends in the paper, but women respond differently now, mostly dressing as they like. We need more women in IT, because while women have learned to ignore fashion trends, I’m not so sure IT has. For example, I just read that while MSPs are becoming a popular strategy, alternatives are cropping up.

MSP, in case you haven’t encountered the term, stands for “Management Service Provider”. It’s a company that will monitor your systems and network for you, fixing problems or at least alerting you to them.

I first ran across the term no more than three months ago. Assume most IT shops ran across it around the same time, from a sales representative sitting in front of the CIO. 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, undoubtedly quoting some analyst or other from one of the research services, MSPs are becoming a popular strategy, yet alternatives are cropping up.

ASPs preceded MSPs in the trend-mill. The original application service providers could only have appealed to small startups. 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 (1) IT has been integrated into the heart of their companies’ processes and culture; (2) their systems are heavily customized for their particular situations; (3) increasingly, they’re depending on tight integration of their systems to accomplish their companies’ business strategies; and (4) what happens if the ASP … generally a venture-backed startup 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’d 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 really are fat networks, as has been pointed out in this space many times) preceded them as a trend declared 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 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 practice that pollutes the discipline, putting them on a 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.

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