The honeymoon period is over. What am I talking about? Could it be Hewlett Packard which, after seemingly riding out the post-Compaq merger storm intact, is now seeing stuttering financial results and apparent missteps in its PC price war with Dell?
Or perhaps I am wondering whether Microsoft's recent cozying up to government regulators and legislators is about to end in tears, given that the European Commission is considering anti-trust remedies and a potential $3bn fine?
Or maybe this is the end of the line for Linux's reputation as both a delicious dessert topping and a shiny floor wax, the answer to all IT problems? Certainly SCO believes it has just cause to derail the marriage between Linux and mainstream computing.
Or perhaps I am just making reference to the end of irrational exuberance and its cooling-off period. Now is the time to get over the party and the hangover and the short break afterwards, and start treating IT as a business driver again.
According to some 'experts', IT is no longer a source of competitive advantage in business. I will remember that the next time I use Amazon, easyJet, eBay, Google or Lastminute.com.
The simple truth is that the well-worn 'honeymoon' phrase has particular resonance for me at the moment, having just returned from my own.
When the honeymoon period is over it is time to get back to work. I am ready for business. Not all of you have got married this year, but hopefully you have managed to get away for a break.
Even Americans are getting in on the act in 2003, going on two-week 'vacations' and leaving the 'cell phone' at home. They can no longer call you a Euro commie for taking two weeks off.
So now I learn that Microsoft has begun the SME price war in earnest. There have to be some serious opportunities there.
Cheaper CRM? Microsoft Exchange and Windows Server 2003 in a bundle for less than a grand? IBM responding with cheap Linux-based bundles? Dell and HP knocking PC prices down into the few-hundred-quid range?
The server price war continues in earnest and Cisco is moving further into storage networking.
Also, the cost of hardware and software has fallen considerably in real terms over the past three years or so, and continues to do so. Does this fall make it harder to glean revenue from box-shifting? Surely it does.
But perhaps this margin squeeze is the opportunity - or the kick in the backside - needed to move into a more services-led sale, focusing on your customers' business needs and your relationship with them.
Lower price points should start tempting buyers, especially given that consumer and business confidence is on the rise.
Is the real economy in great shape? No, but then again buying is as much to do with confidence as budget. Not every new business opportunity is going to go to India or salesforce.com or some other new market entrant. Why not? Because of relationships.
The honeymoon may be over, but good business relationships are built to last because they are based on trust and commitment, and helping each other solve problems while giving each other room to breathe.
The chief executives of the big companies mentioned at the start of this article should all bear this kind of thinking in mind. Successful resellers and distributors already do.
What happens after the honeymoon period? Less hype and more hard graft. And a good thing too.
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