From here ahead

Thomas R. Temin

By nearly all accounts, 2002 was a lousy year for the IT industry.

Market researcher IDC Corp. of Framingham, Mass., said that it will turn out to be the worst year for IT in history. An industry accustomed to growing at double-digit rates for as long as anyone can remember shrunk slightly last year.

The PC business has taken a serious hit.

The biggest event of the year was not a new chip or revolutionary architectural advancement but rather the failure of Compaq Computer Corp., which Hewlett-Packard Co. swallowed up. For this industry in this economy, one plus one equals less than two.

Economists call this creative destruction'the marketplace correcting itself so only the smartest and most efficient producers survive.

The state of Comdex was another bellwether. Although still exciting and chock-full of information for those who follow the industry, the recent Las Vegas trade show was half the size it was during its peak years.

Still, IT innovation continues. I'm impressed with the new tablet PCs, for example. The current crop has enough software and mechanical engineering freshness to make them worth considering for enterprise use. Advances in wireless LAN security are also noteworthy, if years overdue.

Government is also undergoing creative destruction, although from different stimuli than industry. Out of the crucible of terror attacks and the ensuing 15 months of political debate will emerge a giant new agency. For many federal workers, career hopes will be dashed and, if they are lucky and agile, formed anew. For others, unimaginable opportunity will materialize from seeming dead ends.

At this writing, in all likelihood, the Defense Department will soon be pressure-testing its new doctrines, a network-centric approach to warfighting.

This issue of GCN carries two forecasts to help you navigate the new year. With stories detailing the trends in government and in IT, our reporters and editors hope to give you some insights to what's ahead. And during 2003, we'll stay at our watch posts.

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