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Q&A with Six IT Rock Stars

By Gary Anthes and Thomas Hoffman
January 1, 2007 12:00 PM ET

3 Questions For Leonard Kleinrock
By Gary Anthes

The creator of the basic principles of packet switching, the foundation of the Internet, warns IT managers not to bet on only one broadband technology in 2007.

Leonard Kleinrock
Leonard Kleinrock
Leonard Kleinrock is emeritus professor of computer science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He created the basic principles of packet switching -- the foundation of the Internet -- while a graduate student at MIT, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1963. The Los Angeles Times in 1999 called him one of the "50 people who most influenced business this century."

Which IT story took you by surprise in 2006, and why? By far the largest surprise was the $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube by Google. Perhaps it should not have been all that surprising, since most every time we have enabled the masses to communicate and express themselves without constraints, we have seen a huge groundswell of participation and creativity, which typically leads to commercial success of the activity.

What will be the biggest IT story of the new year? I expect to see huge growth in phone-screen applications. We will continue to see surprising growth in the multibillion-dollar apps, including video and image downloads, sports, gaming and gambling. In addition, the surprise I forecast will be the emergence of powerful location-aware applications for the nomad and his or her mobile device.

What one piece of advice would you offer the IT manager going into 2007? Enable your users with broadband mobile access and applications, but don't bet on only one broadband technology such as 4G or WiMax. There are a number that will be offered, and it will be dangerous to bet on the winner in that group.

3 Questions For Charles Feld
By Thomas Hoffman

The former CIO at Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Delta Air Lines sees a bright 2007, where CIOs and CXOs fuse together to create 21st-century companies.

Charles Feld
Charles Feld
Charles Feld is executive vice president of portfolio development at Electronic Data Systems Corp., where he's responsible for the company's service offerings. From 1983 to 1992, Feld was the vice president of MIS at Frito-Lay Inc., where he orchestrated the adoption of handhelds by 10,000 salespeople, a move that streamlined inventory management while freeing up salespeople to focus on selling. Feld has also done stints as a temporary CIO at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., Delta Air Lines Inc. and First Data Corp. In 1992, Feld launched The Feld Group Inc., a CIO consultancy that was acquired by EDS in January 2004.

Which IT story took you by surprise in 2006 and why? The thing that surprised me was the rapid change in the way people are rushing to modernize their businesses. I was thinking this would occur in '07 or '08, but it began in '05 and '06.

What surprises are in store for IT users in 2007? The biggest issue for them is going to be the flip side of what we just talked about. Very few organizations are in a position of implementing business modernization in the time frame that customers want it. People have had their foot on the brakes for so long, and it's not going to happen in one budget cycle or one calendar year to transform this. It's going to take companies years to get their businesses modernized, to move work around [regionally] and extend their supply chains. Most IT organizations are going to get caught in not having that loving feeling again because they won't be able to respond quick enough [to business demands].

What will be the biggest IT story of the new year? The thing that we've been fighting for the 40 years I've been in the business. There's been a huge gap between business owners and IT in terms of knowledge, passion, etc. That gap is narrowly closing in companies where CIOs and the rest of the CXOs really come together in a shared vision of what needs to happen. It's going to happen in more than one in 10 companies; it's starting to happen now. I'm very optimistic that more and more stories will be told about how they're fused together to create a 21st-century company.

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