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January 2005

New year’s motion can picture moves to make you ready

NewsWire Editorial

We’ve already spent hours in the dark to mark our new year, watching movies. Our focus turns toward film in this season, starting with a Christmas Day movie, then followed up by our holiday tradition of a half-dozen motion pictures, movies Abby and I rent and watch over New Year’s Eve and day. This year our picks — three surprises each, drawn one after another from a hat — caught us up on 2004’s releases. Then the nominations for the Golden Globe awards led us into the theatres, screening these candidates for this month’s Oscar nominations.

Some movies and actors will only do well enough to earn a nomination from the Golden Globe voters, the minor leagues for the Academy Awards. Others, like some strategies for bridging the 3000’s transition era, will have lasting value. It’s hard to tell for certain which will have classic value and deliver a win for their artists, producers or companies. We want to be prepared, so we don’t have to play catch up. You’ll want to be prepared too, especially if there are changes on your 3000 horizon.

Changes will be coming faster for some of you this year. The companies that see scant business growth on their horizon won’t weather as much change. I’m starting to talk with more companies and vendors who are proposing a freeze as the best way to maintain a stable IT environment around their HP 3000s. While nobody envies these companies their static business picture, the luxury of not scrambling to accommodate growth means they won’t change much in their 3000 installations.

The movies are like most of life, though, always changing. Abby and I sit in theatres a lot this time of year, because we want to experience as much as we can of what the Motion Picture Academy might nominate. Since we can’t know what will be important, we see more films. Movies matter a great deal to us, almost as much as those stories we will tell about the fate of the HP 3000 customer over the years to come.

More than three years beyond HP’s dropout announcement of late 2001, you are now well into those interesting times of the notorious Chinese curse. This is the year many of you will finally make commitments to manage the changes that HP set in motion in 2001. You’ll prepare. After many hours at the movies, I feel prepared for whatever nominations the Oscar committee unveils in a few short weeks.

This year we started our watch earlier than ever, because they’ve moved up the Oscar awards date. Dates are important to some of you: those who must ensure a major vendor’s support for your business computers. Still, we’re seeing a steady report that Dec. 31, 2006 is no hard deadline like Dec. 31, 1999. Transition could be as much work as Y2K, but not everybody must be ready by the day HP leaves the 3000 field.

The companies who have to follow their application vendors make up a lot of those earliest movers off the platform. But even these forced changes are now changing in this interesting year. Ecometry customers got told for years they’d need to be off their HP 3000s by that 2006 date. Now their application vendor says it will be okay to stay later, so long as these customers can line up third-party system support.

A lot of the computer industry’s beliefs rely on logic. You learn to program or analyze. You’re rewarded if your systems behave as planned. It might sound like heresy, but computing’s beliefs are the exception which proves life’s rule. The one immutable law is that everything will change.

Watching about 300 Ecometry companies get their transition dates changed has proved that law to me. The companies who made early commitments, then moved off to Windows-based PCs — about 30 so far in the Ecometry world — have done the right thing for their business plans. Whatever they spent or sacrificed to adopt migration early can be justified with a marvelous, magic phrase. It’s one that has guided me into movies lately, too. Here’s the phrase, which I recommend to other parts of your lives:

“It seemed important at the time.”

That’s what’s gotten us to sit through a few movies this month we wouldn’t see again. (There have been others, like “The Aviator,” we couldn’t wait to view a second time. Long live Martin Scorsese.) Maybe, like us, you’ve looked over a lot of features yourself, the moving pictures of transitions that you found just as wanting. The important thing is that you’ve been looking, even if you know you can’t justify the expense of moving away.

Our movie budget goes up this time of year, but we have seen that it’s a seasonal thing. Your budgets for the 3000s in your shops are going to have to rise, at least for a few years. You can call those increases an expense that seems important at the time.

If later on, the urgency seems to subside, like it has for the Ecometry customer, you have that phrase to explain the effort’s costs. You’ll also show that you were staying present, acting while still in the moment of the transition era. Doing the wrong thing can be excused or explained with that phrase. Doing nothing, not even planning — well, I can’t find any magic words to justify that.

When those Oscars are handed out Feb. 27, Abby and I will mark our ballots in another tradition as old as our relationship. (This month entering its 17th year, just a bit in front of the NewsWire’s 11th calendar year.) We won’t be caught trying to catch up, especially on an event with a firm deadline. If yours is firm too, you can still make good progress during this interesting year. You start the same way we’ve done at the movies — by opening your eyes. Only then can you see what you can do.

— Ron Seybold

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