James Martin

Age: 68

Claim to fame: A leading authority in computing, Martin is a Pulitzer Prize nominee, has written 101 textbooks and has honorary doctorates from schools on six continents.

What he's doing now: Founded Washington-based James Martin and Co., now called Headstrong Corp., which has a reputation for ultracomplex system development. Martin is chairman of WatchIT.com, an Internet-based education company that makes advanced-level and comprehensive IT education courses.

Having researched and written more than 100 books on computing, James Martin has some clout in forecasting the next wave of technological advances.

The next big impact on business, Martin predicts, is real-time business-to-business systems.

James Martin, founded Headstrong Corp.
James Martin, founded Headstrong Corp.
That's because they offer many economic advantages. Early business-to-business systems saved a "considerable amount of money" for companies like General Motors Corp. and IBM, he says. But those were predominantly batch-oriented-type systems, whereas the next crop of business-to-business systems will be real-time networks, such as the ones that are driving just-in-time car production in Japan, says Martin.

In the automotive industry, for example, companies like Ford Motor Co. will increasingly rely on third-party manufacturers to build and ship them needed parts to build cars using real-time systems, says Martin.

For consumers, Martin says he expects to see "personal media machines" that people can use to program their TV and Internet viewing. He says these machines will be supported by the growth of the "wideband Internet," which will crest in the second half of this decade. For those reasons, the most successful technology companies will be those "that provide the most desirable applications for ultrahigh bandwidth networks," Martin adds.

IT leadership will look a lot different in 10 years, too, he says, as key technology decisions will be made by business executives, and almost all maintenance and development will be outsourced or sent offshore. Though Martin says IT will become highly integrated with the businesses it supports, "there'll be some things that senior management can't get, which I think is human nature."

Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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