Let’s face it: we are in the middle of a recession, and no matter how hard we think otherwise, millions of jobs are at stake, IT projects are restructured, and companies are slashing budgets wherever they can.
But while the current global economic climate does not spell “business as usual,” we all know that business must go on. This is an interesting time if one looks at the state of world economy in glass-half-full way. Everyone is connected to everyone else, thanks to international commerce and technologies that have allowed all of us to carry out business at lightning pace on a global scale.
The celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday last February 12 brings to mind how even among humans and organizations, the fittest survive. And anybody knows that in a survival-of-the-fittest scenario, it is not necessarily the biggest or the strongest that make it but the smartest and toughest.
In the tech world, survival of the fittest will be the norm at least until after market conditions change and new ways of distributing services at prices the market is willing to pay for comes around. For the meantime, middle-of-the-ground technologies, such as open-source applications, have every chance of surviving this climate. It will not be free, but being significantly cheaper, open-source, as an example, has a foot at the door, thanks to cost reductions that companies are actively pursuing.
Business needs must still be met, but the challenge lies in meeting these needs inexpensively without sacrificing scale and quality. It is why we can argue for the good that this recession will bring to technology, and how technology will sustain many companies until things turn for the better.
While there is very little venture capital that flows into new initiatives, competitive firms are reinventing the way technology is produced, distributed, and consumed. Netbooks are outselling their traditional mobile computing counterparts while SaaS and open-source applications are addressing specific, targeted computing requirements of businesses of any size (hey, everyone is in belt-tightening mode), from product management to enterprise resource planning to content development. Firms are cutting down on business travel costs by adopting virtualization, and so everything that could be done online has a good chance of being relegated to the cyberspace. It will be interesting to see how Java developers—most progenitors of AJAX—will take advantage of the business technology climate, with or without VC backing.
But moving beyond the web sphere, one could only wonder how the lessons of Web 2.0, crowdsourcing, Wikipedia and open source applications will be applied to outsourcing as companies seeking to cut costs ship more projects abroad.