The future of technology in business

Make no mistake about it, 2001 was a tough year. The economy tanked, sales were flat, debt was up and, if you were lucky, you didn’t completely lose your shirt or lay off your best employees.

Odds are, investment in technology wasn’t high on your priority list.

But while the technology sector certainly reflected the corporate community’s purchasing slowdown, the lack of sales failed to stop the industry from lurching forward in the name of progress. Chip speeds surged ahead from megahertz to gigahertz, the breadth of applications increased, network capabilities improved as bandwidth issues were better resolved and, along the way, the world seemingly became a little smaller.

So what does the future hold for technology in business across Northeast Ohio and nationwide?

The region may be behind the national curve a bit, but no matter whom you speak with the prognostications are similar. Technology is expected to continue helping business owners become more efficient in their operations, which, in return, will significantly impact the corporate bottom line.

Traditional manufacturers that haven’t yet begun massive technology transfer are beginning to make investments and those driving change are starting to see returns on their investments.

Over the last few months, SBN hit the streets of Northeast Ohio to determine how the region’s experts saw the impact technology will play in business in 2002 and beyond.

“It’s a lot less futuristic than people may think,” says Jim Cookinham, executive director of NEOSA. “You’d be surprised how many executives aren’t even using e-mail yet.”

Add in the results of a recent technology study that revealed a whopping 50 percent of Ohio-based firms aren’t even linked into the Internet and findings from the Cleveland Growth Association that say there will be more than 7,000 technology-related jobs available next year – most in non-technology-related companies – and it’s obvious there’s a lot of room for growth.

In the following pages you’ll read about:

* Expected growth of Linux use among businesses as a network platform

* Greater use of online recruiting as a tool for employee attraction

* Increased automation in the manufacturing process as traditional manufacturers get leaner and more efficient

* The emergence of the region’s biotechnology sector to capitalize on Northeast Ohio’s healthcare and technological strengths

* Telecommunications improvements in the areas of delivery, bundling and flat-rate pricing

* Wider bandwidth for networking

* Better clarity in Internet legal issues such as intellectual property

* What the landscape of Internet taxes will look like beyond 2002

While we may not have all the answers, hopefully, this special report will lay the groundwork for another full year of coverage in how technology will impact your business.