Is the IT industry faltering because we have all just lost interest?

by Frank 15. April 2013 06:00

I have just read another IDC industry reporting talking about how PC sales have plunged 14 percent in the first three months of 2013. The report goes on to show that this is a worldwide trend, not just in the USA or Asia Pacific. Europe for example, was the worst with a 16 percent decline.

I also read lots of industry reports telling me how unsuccessful Windows 8 has been, much worse even than the dreaded Vista. Even Microsoft with its huge marketing budget has not been able to buck the trend. Apple also reports lower sales of its PCs and the report suggests they may have been cannibalized by Apple’s own tablets (how ironic).

Is it all to do with the ongoing world financial crisis? Do we blame the politicians and bureaucrats of Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and now Cypress for this massive fall off in PC Shipments? Or, as I surmise, are we all more than a little bored with the IT industry, its hype and the too regular platform changes forced upon us? Are we all jaded by a decade of too rapid and unneeded change?

I like Windows 7, it works, it is stable and it allows me to run all the programs I need for my business. Why would I upgrade especially as I am going to have to retrain all my staff and also have to upgrade a lot of the software and hardware I use? What compelling reason is there to upgrade to Windows 8?

Similarly, my desktops and servers are now 3 to 4 years old but I bought high quality Dell OptiPlex PCs and Dell Xeon rack servers and they are all still more powerful than I need and still working fine. When something occasionally fails I just pay Dell to fix or replace it. It is a lot less disruptive and a lot less costly than replacing everything. What compelling reason is there for me to suffer the pain and disruption of replacing my PCs and servers?

Of course the world financial crisis has a lot to do with the tumbling PC sales figures because most organisations are still cutting costs to maintain or grow profits. However, I also detect a sea change in attitudes among my peer groups and customers. We have had enough of constant change for change’s sake. Most of the people I deal with are now sticking by the old maxim of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

It looks like a lot of us have all lost interest in technology, we have even become bored and blasé about technology. So it is 10% lighter and 15% faster, “who cares?’ So it is prettier and has even more features I won’t ever use, “who cares?” There is another iPhone that is slightly bigger and slightly thinner than the last one, “who cares?” There is yet another update to Linux or Android, “who cares?”

I own and run a computer software company called Knowledgeone Corporation that builds and markets a range of enterprise content management software applications under the banner of RecFind 6. Because of this I am vitally interested in what is happening both with the ongoing world financial crisis and PC shipments because both affect my business.

Just like my customers, I am fed up with the industry trying to force feed me with new products that I don’t need and frankly, am just not interested in. I am the same as my customers, they just want my products to work day in and day out, 24/7, and do the job they were purchased for. They will buy maintenance because that protects their investment in my products but right now, most aren’t really ready to face or fund a massive change in their operation unless there is a damn good reason with a sound business justification.

I believe one of the main reasons PC sales are down, in addition to the world financial crisis, is because right now we just aren’t interested in new technology for technologies sake. We are more interested in running our businesses in the most cost effective manner and maintaining profitability. We are also tired of the IT industry trying to hard sell another ‘new thing’ every 3 years or so.

I don’t need new PCs, I don’t need new servers, I don’t need the next iPhone or update to Android. I think the world as a whole is now clearly differentiating between need and want and if need rather than want is driving the system then trying to woo us with faster, thinner, prettier technology just isn’t going to work. Frankly, I think we are bored with technology and all have more important things to think about like how to remain profitable and protect our companies and the jobs of our staff.

Maybe we are all waiting for the It industry to come up with something really, really interesting and really, really useful that will actually help us strengthen our bottom line? Now that would be something new.

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