No-brainers

Since my crystal ball is more tarnished than Siemens’ reputation (the fraud probe of the German IT giant’s telecommunications unit is getting down and dirty), don’t expect me to weigh in on what you’re likely to see happen in 2007. As I made crystal clear last year at this time, my inclination is to leave it to the experts we tap each year for that. This industry is just too unpredictable for me to even give it a shot.

Instead, I’m going to take a far safer and easier route with my second annual list of things that won’t happen in the new year. Admittedly, I even blew that last year, since I predicted that Dell would not forgo its cozy relationship with Intel to appease customers who were clamoring for AMD processors. (Who knew Dell’s cold, sickly, SEC-investigated fingers could ever be pried from Intel chips?) So I’ll play it doubly safe and stick with a short list of no-brainers:

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• If Hewlett-Packard’s attorneys brief Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd on an investigation that involves possible legal liability for the company, Hurd will not sell off $1.37 million worth of stock options the same day. That’s what he did on Aug. 25, the day he was briefed by HP’s lawyers on the pretexting investigation, and it looked pretty bad. Not even Hurd is brazen enough to try that again.

• There won’t be any “I love Costa Rica” bumper stickers sold in Nashua, N.H., next year. There’s way too much perturbation over the fact that folks at the HP facility in Nashua are seeing their jobs get outsourced to Costa Rica. And some of the HPers aren’t too thrilled with HP, either. “The people they have hired to replace us cannot do this job. They are trying to take my 10 years’ experience and give it to them in six months,” one Nashua HP worker whose job is being outsourced wrote me in an e-mail. “My only hope is that this whole thing crashes and burns after they have let us all go. Maybe then HP will realize that they made a big mistake.”’

• Oracle will not take out any full-page ads with the stark, simple statement that “Computer Associates runs SAP,” as it did last summer in order to, as an Oracle spokesman put it, “raise awareness of the complexity and costs associated with SAP implementations.” Oracle’s problem-plagued $25 million PeopleSoft rollout in the Palm Beach County School District in Florida, which is being blamed for employees being underpaid or not being paid at all, would make such finger-pointing even more obscene than it already was.

• Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will not utter the phrase “undisclosed balance-sheet liability” in the context of what Linux users have incurred with respect to Microsoft’s intellectual property. When he did that in November, just two weeks after the announcement of his technology collaboration agreement with Novell, he lost just about all the goodwill that agreement bought him. And Ballmer knows very well that goodwill toward Microsoft is far too rare to squander.

So much for the no-brainers. In our Forecast 2007 package, special projects editor Ellen Fanning and her team have put together an insightful look into the management issues and technology challenges that, according to your peers, are what you should focus on in the coming year. It won’t be easy. But the stuff that matters seldom is.

Don't miss the rest of Forecast 2007.

Don Tennant is editor in chief of Computerworld. Contact him at don_tennant@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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