Today millions of Americans head to the polls to cast their vote in the presidential primary. It’s the biggest Super Tuesday in the history of the primaries.
As voters pull the lever, touch a screen or punch a card, a pall hangs over the nation as a result of economic uncertainty. The sub-prime mortgage crisis is causing serious pain to thousands and thousands of homeowners, and concerns over energy costs are affecting just about everyone, except for perhaps the record-profit-making Exxon Mobil.
Out of curiosity, in the past week or so I have been asking solution providers and others in the industry whether they have seen any effects of the slowing economy in their business. When Ziff Davis Enterprise completed its Outlook 2008 solution provider survey at the end of last year, we detected very little concern in the channel about an economic downturn.
Since then the bad news about the economy has only gotten worse, with unemployment rising, job creation slowing and the mortgage crisis continuing.
But even now, at least the people I have talked to in the IT industry still feel relatively confident about their business prospects for the immediate future. Aside from companies that actually served certain customers in the financial sector, solution providers say they have seen minimal effects from the economic downturn.
This of course is a considerably different situation from seven years ago when the technology industry was taking an early hit before other sectors fell victim to a recession.
The channel has changed since, and solution providers have reaped the benefits of technology refreshes in recent years and gotten smarter about rounding out their offerings with high-margin services.
Solution providers also have benefited from government regulations that have prompted companies to invest in technology to make them compliant with those regulations.
"Government regulations" is one of those terms that can cause apoplexy in some people. And while as I get older, I have grown leery of a government that more often than not seems to stop only at half measures because nobody can agree on anything anymore, it is undeniable that government policies can have a positive effect.
Certainly, the IT industry has benefited from regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA. Those regulations provide an example of how necessary, well-intended government action produces economic benefits.
The same can be true of green technology initiatives. Already we have seen federal and state actions that encourage investment in technology that reduces energy consumption and improves processing efficiency.
But more is needed. We need a comprehensive approach with incentives for innovation and regulations to discourage wasteful and hazardous practices.
Technology is the key. It’s encouraging to see companies with small, yet important, innovations like GreenPrint, whose patent-pending technology prevents the unnecessary printing of unwanted pages, saving paper, ink, money and trees.
GreenPrint is just one example. With the right incentives and investment, think of how many other GreenPrints can flourish in the fertile fields of high-tech innovation. Think of how products like this can add to the channel’s service capabilities and ability to generate customer loyalty.
The channel today is stronger than during the turn-of-the-millennium recession, and it can stay strong so long as solution providers invest in the right strategies. Going forward, I believe green technology can play an important role in those strategies and the health of the industry.
And that is something worth thinking about as we cast our ballots today.
Pedro Pereira is editor of eWEEK Strategic Partner and a contributing editor for Channel Insider. He is at firstname.lastname@example.org.