E-Views: Riding the roller coaster to recession

So, its RIP New Economy and back to business as usual, it would seem. The dotcom roller coaster has derailed and London Techmark...

So, its RIP New Economy and back to business as usual, it would seem. The dotcom roller coaster has derailed and London Techmark has become a House of Horrors. The business press are talking ominously of a recession and sniping smugly about the hubris of the Internet community.

I don't have a huge problem with this. There is no denying that the Internet has been hugely over-hyped, first to a positive and now to a negative degree. And there is a certain amount of justice in the fact that some of the companies responsible for the hype - technology providers, Web consultancies and would-be dotcom entrepreneurs - are now biting the bullet as investor and customer sentiment turns against them. But let's not be too harsh. To a large extent their marketing campaigns were only saying what we all wanted to hear, and I think everyone got a little over-excited for a while back in the heady days of 1999.

The danger is that the present negative sentiment will lead to disillusionment, and we will forget about all the wonderful possibilities that Internet technology brings: the death of distance, the democratisation of information and the freedom to be flexible.

The latest application being marketed for e-business and Internet technology is as a tool for cost-reduction. Cost cutting as an e-business driver definitely has a longer shelf-life at the moment than globalisation or brand building. In fact, E-Business Review columnist Martin Butler believes that a recessionary climate could be the "best friend that e-business ever had".

Election time nears and, funnily enough, the political parties vying for our votes are also scrambling to appear as best friend to the e-business fraternity. This month we have offered Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party the opportunity to showcase their e-business manifestoes. Spin or substance, you decide.

This month's special report focuses on an area that is confusing to many of our readers - hosting. Do you know your ISP from your ASP? Or co-location from managed services? We've asked some of the best writers in the industry to give you a coherent guide to Internet based outsourcing. And we have expanded our news coverage this month to include a new review section, which reproduces some of the more interesting facts, figures and thoughts from last month's business press.

Toby Poston

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