Trends of a Feather
Something that has always bothered me about the 24-hour news cycle is that every channel follows the same pattern: all of them seem to go to weather at the same time, and then to sports, and then to some fake "chat" before winding down — all at precisely the same time. Radio operates much the same way. When your favorite program hits a break, you flip the tuner to find something else, only to find every other station at commercial.
Have you noticed the exact same thing in the technology magazines? Open up a copy of CIO, and you’re likely to hit the same topics as eWeek, SoftwareDevelopment, or whatever other monthly periodical inspires you. Why is that? Oh, I realize that a handful of companies make some news, and they all need to cover it, but aren’t there a plethora of stories out there on a broad range of topics? Oracle’s acquisition of PeopleSoft is big news, but feature articles in every magazine? Months and months of speculation didn’t satisfy?
This month, two trends seem to be buzzing in the tech circle: collaboration apps, and voice over IP-based solutions. Last month it was a spate of grid-related technologies. Scheduled for next month? Linux versus Windows, followed by collaboration apps and VoIP. And then grids. After that, I’m guessing Linux vs. Windows.
What gets lost in the noise is a clear picture on what is actually happening out there. I’ve mentioned a few times in the past some of my thoughts on the convergence of collaborative technologies that need to happen for enterprises to fully embrace some of the cool new gadgets and software being developed. How do you replace decades old process and "land-line" systems with the new without providing key integrations and robust functionality? An interesting place to guage the trends is in the hiring activities of high-tech firms. What I’ve seen is an upswing in hiring among VoIP startups in their efforts to integrate voice with both traditional applications, and also the spate of new collaboration tools.
To get a sense of just how big a play this space will become, look no further than Microsoft — and how they are throwing serious muscle behind their efforts to add session initiation protocol (SIP) into their OS. According to eWeek,
To integrate voice with its more traditional data applications, the Redmond, Wash., developer is testing a new client for its Live Communications Server, which would link instant messaging with telephony and video applications. Called "Istanbul," it is slated to replace Messenger as the key client for LCS and will be released early next year.
With SIP embedded in its nearly ubiquitous operating system, Microsoft could even deliver an IP platform for computer-to-computer communications with advantages over traditional voice delivery, including greater integration, easier customization and lower prices. Unlike other similar telephony offerings—such as Pulver.com’s Free World Dial-up, or FWD, and Vonage Holdings Corp.’s basic VOIP service—a voice network via a Microsoft operating system would connect a vast number of users instantaneously. "If Microsoft rolls something out, they can immediately reach millions of people," said David Kaut, a Legg Mason analyst.
My point here? Don’t get caught up in every headline pushed in front of you. Sometimes the more relevant stories are those on page 26, hiding inside the ‘Analysis’ section.