Vote for Technology Investment, Education

By Pedro Pereira  |  Print this article Print


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While economic concerns are sure to influence most votes on Nov. 4, those invested in IT also need to consider green technology, automation, education and keeping jobs here.

You are forgiven if you feel like Wyatt Cenac, one of the "correspondents" of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who on the Oct. 28 broadcast said, "Let's just [expletive] vote already."

We are in the home stretch of what has to be the longest presidential race in our nation's relatively short history. So if you have tired of the relentless attacks, grandiose speeches and ambitious plans, you have every reason to be weary.

Still, most polls show as many as 8 percent or so of voters remain undecided. Say what?

It isn't like the two main candidates - John McCain and Barack Obama - haven't been more overexposed than Paris Hilton in the last two years. And it isn't like they haven't stressed their differences vigorously, each casting himself as the agent of change that America needs.

Unlike some past elections, the choices are clear this time. Each candidate has outlined a distinct approach to running the country.

For the IT channel and the industry as a whole, the state of the economy is a major concern, and as with most voters, it is sure to have a major impact on your decision to pick a candidate.

These are troubled times, with economic turmoil that some experts say could rival the Great Depression.

So far the IT channel has fared relatively well, but demand for technology products is softening as budgets tighten and buyers put off purchases.

In a recent Channel Insider survey of 300 solution providers, 30 percent of participants said they already are feeling the pinch of the ongoing economic slump. Five percent said 2008 sales forecasts are significantly worse than expected and 25 percent said forecasts are somewhat worse. Forty-four percent said results so far are in line with expectations, while the remaining 26 percent said they are doing better than expected.

On the surface, these results don't look bad, but they don't tell the whole story. More troubling is what participants said about their customers' IT spending plans, for that provides a view into the near future.

Fifty-two percent said customers are delaying or deferring projects and spending, 51 percent said new customers are taking longer to make buying decisions, and 39 percent said customers have scaled back IT spending.

The reticence regarding spending is understandable. And when Americans walk into the polling booth between now and Nov. 4, most will vote their wallets.

In doing so, many will be thinking in terms of taxation. To hear some pundits and politicians, nothing else seems to matter. "Just don't raise my taxes, and all be fine," seems to be the overriding message in some quarters.

But there is more to it.

When pulling the lever, voters with a vested interest in the channel and IT ought to also consider which candidate is more likely to encourage investment in new technologies and in education. Which candidate's policies are more likely to encourage green inventions that address our energy crisis? Which policies will reward businesses to automate? To encourage technologies that reduce power use? To discourage sending jobs overseas?

One of the glaring omissions of the recent $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan was the failure to address investment in new, green technologies that are our only chance at replicating the kind of economic boom the Internet brought us in the 1990s. Whichever candidate wins will have to address this head-on.

Yes, we need to deal with our current economic problems, but in doing so, we can't afford to divorce ourselves from investing in the future. It's critical, therefore, to invest in education and in the spirit of entrepreneurship without which there would be no IT channel.

We have plenty to think about as we head to the booth.

 Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He is at pedro.pereira@ziffdavisenterprise.com. 


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