Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 27/1/2003To Le Meridien in the heart of London's prestigious Piccadilly district (avoiding the dangerous coincidence of payday and Tower Records). By several twists of fate, I am to chair a BusinessWeek/European Technology Forum round-table this evening on the interesting subject of IT strategy in challenging times.

Monday 27/1/2003
To Le Meridien in the heart of London's prestigious Piccadilly district (avoiding the dangerous coincidence of payday and Tower Records). By several twists of fate, I am to chair a BusinessWeek/European Technology Forum round-table this evening on the interesting subject of IT strategy in challenging times. This consists of sitting in the middle of a bunch of chief technology/information officers from such blue chip places as Barclay's, Vodafone, Sainsbury's and so on. So, it's on with the best tie and the closest I can get to a professional demeanour, and off we go. As a humble technology editor, I don't spend much time with strategic corporate types, so it's as interesting for me as it is -- I hope -- for the audience. For example, did you know that by going with Intel/Linux systems, companies can afford to run two identical set-ups of their major installations? One for the live system, one for development, debugging and so on. You just can't do that with the sort of licence and hardware prices the HPs and Suns of this world require, but it makes life so much easier. Towards the end, I start to relax. Big mistake, 'cos then I slip into stand-up comedian mode. Still, I got two laughs for every low rumble of disapproval -- I reckon that's an honourable ratio. After the event. I got buttonholed by one of those rather formidable women who run PR businesses through the ability to turn clients and journalists into burn marks on the carpet with one glare through their specially heat-hardened quartz-lensed five-hundred-quid spectacles. "How did you find it?" I asked, still filled with the giddy joy of having got through the evening without dropping anyone on the stage in the deep stuff. "I was very disappointed. Nobody wanted to talk about the subject," she smiled. Beneath my feet, the shagpile started to smoulder. She was right, of course, and that was one thing that came across beforehand. There was a consensus among the panellists that IT shouldn't be about strategy. I didn't believe that, nor that they believed it, but I was stuck -- should I try and stir things up by saying so, or should I go with the flow? I should have been Jeremy Paxman, but I was Martin Lewis. Next time -- if there is a next time -- I'll bring my iconoblaster.