Analysis: The need to keep an eye on the future

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Analysis: The need to keep an eye on the future

Simon Quicke

One of the potential problems with any downturn is that short-term thinking as firms go into survival mode gets in the way of long-term strategy.

If you listen to the likes of John Chambers, Cisco’s CEO, he will talk about a determination not to be deflected from the road ahead and the need to focus on its long-term goals.

Of course he has the luxury of sitting at the helm of a large vendor with the reserves in the bank that can make it easier to navigate through the current choppy waters.

But there is a lesson there that serves a purpose for the rest of the channel. One that sadly a fair few are not heeding.

A meeting recently with someone who had been made redundant from a distributor after it axed its division looking at future technologies bemoaned the short term thinking pointing out that when the upturn comes it would be miles behind.

His complaints were not just from his own experience and he commented on having seen other similar moves being made at rivals and at reseller levels of the channel.

Even when it comes to government there is a feeling that as the money starts to dry up some of the investment in the technological foundation for the next stage of the country’s development will be lost.

Last week the government talked about Building Britain’s Future and as part of that unveiled plans to stump up £150m for a fund that is designed to bring in similar contributions from private companies to provide IT start-ups with VC funding.

But it has taken two months from budget to announcement to get that ball rolling and inevitably there are some critics who point out that the starting amount of £150m is not enough.

Elsewhere the government seems to have got into a mess with the education world encouraging schools to rebuild only to then point out it is not providing the funding.

“New jobs for the future will also come through making the necessary investments in low-carbon energy, digital technology, financial services, bioscience, advanced manufacturing and transport,” said the Prime Minister last week.

“Those are the building blocks of the competitive economy of the future,” he added as he outlined plans to Build Britain’s Future.

The challenge he faces is not just one of money but convincing enough business leaders who have already put thoughts of the future on hold to maintain their nerve and reconsider the bigger picture.

“Years of work have gone in a sweep and the company risks excluding itself from several high value markets,” said the redundant source that highlights the worries of many that the impact of the recession could be much longer lasting than it needed to be.


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