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Never waste the opportunities in a crisis

Ross O. Storey | Dec. 9, 2008
What Machiavelli said more than 500 years ago seems relevant in todays troubled times.

Life sometimes depends on whether you see the glass as half full, or half empty. Your attitude can definitely colour your environment, and, some would argue, even influence what happens. How much of todays global troubles have a psychological foundation? How much trouble has been caused by typically human board-room panic in the face of difficulty? Yes, in todays global financial turmoil it is difficult each morning to wake up and list your reasons to be cheerful, in the face of generally negative news; you definitely need to work harder to focus on the positive.

Governments, of course, need to show leadership in times of trouble and to remind their constituents to keep things in balance.

Singapores Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr S.Iswaran, gave a speech last week at the opening ceremony of the 17th International Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference in the Lion City. He had some words of assurance for oil and gas people, that could just as easily have been directed at senior IT executives.

About the economic down-turn, the Minister told the conference that, After years of high double-digit growth, the industry now faces some near term uncertainties.  In 2006, oil prices were around US$65 per barrel.  It more than doubled to a record high of US$147 per barrel in July this year, and has lowered to about US$50 today.

 Notwithstanding these short term uncertainties, the long term outlook for the oil and gas industry remains positive, he said. The fundamentals have not changed. The prospect for sustained demand for energy from both the developed and emerging economies remains intact.

If you replace the words oil and gas industry and energy with information and communications technology, the Ministers words would be just as relevant.

The Minister went on to say that Hence, this is an ideal time for the industry to deliberate on how to cope with the short-term challenges ahead, so as to position itself for the long term opportunities. This way, the industry will emerge stronger when the global economy turns around. Senior IT executives could do worse than heeding this advice too.

Another Microsoft event, which I attended in the past fortnight, also provided some very interesting food for thought, this time from Dr Peter Weill, Chairman, Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) and MIT Sloan Senior Research Scientist. Dr Weill quoted fifteenth century Florentine writer and statesman Niccolo Machiavelli as saying never waste the opportunities offered by a good crisis.

Ross O. Storey, currently the Managing Editor of Fairfax Business Media Asia, is responsible for the editorial content and production of MIS Asia, CIO Asia, Computerworld Singapore and Computerworld Malaysia magazines.


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