Feature

The 'rough guide' to interesting trends

If anyone claims they know what the growth in the IT industry is going to be over the next 12 months do not believe them. They cannot truly know. That's because although growth in IT spend correlates closely with general economic trends, it follows general growth, and does not lead.

The Computer Weekly/KEW IT expenditure survey has proved that conclusively for the past few years. Therefore to predict the future of the IT industry overall, we need to predict what is happening out there in the general economy. I had an interesting chat recently with a group of experienced IT market-watchers.
One, a successful venture capitalist, swears by looking at the popular Beefeater restaurant chain car parks - if people are pulling in their belts, the first thing they do is cut back on that family meal. On that basis, he says, we are currently in the middle of a disguised recession.
Another, an analyst, looks at shipment levels to landfill waste dumps. As most of the rubbish is packaging, he reckons the real state of the economy is directly proportional to the industrial tip run.
Yet another, a telecoms marketeer, counts the coin drops in public phone boxes. With weighting, to allow for expansion of mobile phone use, use of public phones correlates well with the state of the economy, he says.
The real professionals use techniques like this to get real-time information about the economy, and instinctively know that IT will follow advantage.
I'd like to know of other real-life measures you use to assess the economy. So, I'm putting up a bottle of champagne for each of the three most original snap methods for assessing the state of the economy.


John Riley
E-mail entries (not to be attributed to you) to john.riley@rbi.co.uk.

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This was first published in May 2001

 

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