1987: Hard times are coming says IDC president

At what must have been one of the busiest Canadian Computer Shows ever, exhibitors and visitors heard that appeareances notwithstanding, hard times are on the way

J. Mark Stirling, president of Toronto’s IDC Canada and an expert on information technology, told media representatives that the double digit growth figures of the 70s and 80s won’t be seen again.

Uncertainty over the future, especially given the recent stock market turmoil, means a higher premium will be placed on risk, Stirling says, and capital for information technology companies will be scarcer and more costly than for more traditional companies.

Worse still, he forecasts, capital for purchasing information technology products and services will be harder to come by.

“For the MIS manager, all of this…will inevitably result in overal spending cutbacks by companies in most areas,” Stirling believes.

“In fact, because of the high risk associated with the implementation of information technology, cutbacks here are likely to be even more severe.”

Moreover, he wanrs, as MIS budgets tighten, the pace of “downsizing” will accelerate with the net result that spending on large systems will be cut much more sharply than on smaller ones.

Therefore, Stirling says, the bottom line for MIS managers is, “if you want to weather the coming storm beef up your expertise in LANs and be open and receptive to new, and radically different ways of solving your company’s information processing problems.”

And MIS managers will not be the only ones to suffer, he added.

The rules for vendors will also be very different from the past.

A few proprietary architectures, notably from IBM and Digital Equipment, have become de facto standards and are likely to stay that way.

But because of their smaller installed bases and the movement toward non-proprietary architectures, all other vendors are extremely vulnerable if they “persist in trying to maintain their proprietary stance and refuse to evolve with the industry.

“Success is in the psat will be absolutely no guarantee of success in the future.”

This story originally appeared in Direct Access, Dec. 15, 1987.

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