Networks Show: Suppliers get bumpy ride

IT managers poured their hearts out at a special question time at the Networks Show in Birmingham yesterday (25 June).

IT managers poured their hearts out at a special question time at the Networks Show in Birmingham yesterday (25 June).

Lack of recognition and status, difficulties in justifying return on investment (ROI), interoperability problems and a lack of firm technology standards, were key concerns voiced by IT managers at the show.

The question time was hosted by a number of network suppliers who hoped to use the session to offer advice to IT managers, but most questioners blamed the suppliers for their difficulties in the first place.

One IT manager asked how he could justify ROI on a project when specifications and functions of products changed so frequently and often needlessly.

He said the introduction of Microsoft XP was a case in point, and claimed many users felt it was an "unnecessary upgrade".

He added that the networking industry also had to explain why buying a PBX (telephone exchange) every couple of years was better than buying one every ten years, which was the case previously.

Interoperability between networking products also came under the spotlight, with suppliers being accused of being too keen to launch solutions ahead of firm technology standards.

The Bluetooth short-range wireless standard was cited as an example by one of the suppliers. He said the Bluetooth special interest group quickly built up to 2,000 supplier companies, but of them only 15 were chip companies that were central to bringing out products that worked properly.

Protocols affecting voice-over-IP technology were also mentioned by the audience, with suppliers in this market being criticised for bringing out PBX and other products which would not work with new products using protocols about to be introduced.

One thing the suppliers present could not be blamed for though was a lack of recognition for IT managers from the board.

IT managers seemed to agree that apart from new titles shipped over from the US - such as "chief information officer" and "chief knowledge officer" - IT managers deserved more recognition for their key roles.

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