When I saw interior designer and I'm a celebrity ... 'star' Linda 'Barking' Barker help to advertise Packard Bell PCs on the TV recently, I was finally convinced of something I had thought for a very long time: IT is identical to the fashion business.
It has taken a while for PCs and other bits of kit to evolve from dull beige boxes into lifestyle accessories such as the iPod and Sony Vaio, where the ergonomics and aesthetics of a machine are just as important as the internal wizardry. But consumers and business users have always bought into technologies and trends that are in vogue.
For example, it is probably fair to say that customer relationship management is the new enterprise resource planning. When it was fashionable, ERP was probably the 'new' Business Intelligence or Sales Force Automation. Silver has definitely become the new black for PCs and peripherals.
Even the language and the acronyms of the IT industry change with what is fashionable. In the dotcom era, perhaps IT's equivalent of the excesses of the late 1970s and early 1980s, you couldn't move for all the 'stickiness' that was happening on at all the newly created websites. It was all about eyeballs, IPOs and click-throughs, we were told.
Unless you were a square, no one talked about return on investment or business benefit. In those days it was all about speeds and feeds and making a million before you were 21.
Technology is no longer just functional; it has become 'sexy'. It has become cool to work in computers. Instead of looking at your shoes at parties and mumbling that you're a Java programmer, you can proudly look people in the eyes and say you are in IT, as if you work for Ralph Lauren.
Even product launches these days are more like fashion shows. It is surely only a matter of time before we hear companies talk about their winter collections.
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