Coverage of IT: Mixed Reviews

Weblogs like this are commanding bigger coverage of IT events and news. The major trade presss is reacting by setting up more specialized IT websites like the excellent Pipeline series at Techweb, the specialized coverage sites at eWeek/ZiffDavis like ExtremeTech and Microsoft Watch. ADTMag and JupiterMedia are specializing their coverage – ADT broader and perhaps more salient. Finally, all of the magazines are rotating their roster of experts – seemingly trying to get the right mix for the new IT world.

But the fundamental problem is that first, the downturn took a lot of the advertisers away – and then when the IT economy started to recover the readership had gone to the web where they could find all that was in print plus the Weblog chatter. But also something else was gone: all of the major IT journals cutback severely the number of reviews, tutorials and their own testing labs.

Net result the printed magazines are veritable ghosts of what they used to be . First they are 1/3rd to 1/5th the original size. Second, they use a lot of cross coverage – stories that appear in one journal are seen on the feeder websites or other journal so there is increased overlap. Third, the number and size of the events and news stories are generally shorter. Finally, and most importantly, the number and the depth of analysis done in tutorials and reviews has also declined. So readers ask why not go to the weblogs where they are likely to get better morsels of info/insights .

Where to Find Good IT Info

But Weblogs are not the new IT trade press. Some of the old IT press still supplies very good tutorials and test-based reviews while providing better consistency in covering news and events. Just look at the CES Show coverage in the IT trade press versus the weblogs. Also some IT journals have kept a fairly high caliber of testing labs and rigorous reviews. For example, the coverage by networking, embedded processing, and graphics processing press (especially the British mags like Computer Arts and Digit) is fairly high. They have kept high quality, test-based tutorials and reviews in abundance on their pages and websites. However, for the general IT press coverage as we have pointed out , the decline is notable.

Unfortunately this trend coincides with a consolidation and thinning in the analyst shops. With Gartner buying Meta that has removed a major player and independent line of thought in IT analysis. It comes at a very interesting juncture. N-tier heterogeneous processing is coming to every organization – literally Information at your Fingertips is being delivered not by Web Services but more by BI, BPM, and EAI based initiatives. But also embedded processors are becoming not only common and prevalent but they are increasingly Moores Law powerful. So not only will infomation be delivered at your finger tips; but computer based command and control can now be extended to every walk of life. Asynchronous processing and Long Transactions will be the first steps into the long predicted world of Smart Agents acting for various underlying players/stakeholders.

But the complexity and trade-offs of economically serving these new technologies and agent-based marketplaces have received limited coverage. The issues are being discussed but not reviewed, tested, and examined as critically as say LANs, client server, ERP and some of the earlier trends in IT. Admittedly individuals and organizations can do their own research and testing much better and more readily than ever before. Both commercial and Open Source software is often easily available for testing and trial use. But the bottom line is that the old myth, getting a Decisive Competitive IT Advantage, is most readily available today than ever before because of the diffusion of good information about what works well. Savvy IT organizations looking for ways to to get Decisive Competitive Advantage may have their best opporunity of the last 10-15 years now in this comparative information vacuum. As always, like focus, focus, focus on what – getting your fingertips and attention into the right places is the trick. Good Info-hunting!

(c)JBSurveyer 2005