George Colony Interview

The New York Times has an interview with the Forrester CEO. Excerpts:

Q. What are the big trends in 2005?

A. There are some real fires burning here. RFID in the retail space – that’s a fire burning. You cannot ignore this. You’re going to have to spend money, make change, change your organization, change your process, no doubt about it. On the back ends of all companies, there’s a trend we call “organic I.T.,” which says we’re moving away from big proprietary systems toward much cheaper systems built from cheap components based on standards.

Q. Let’s talk about Google. You came out against it to some degree last year, citing competition from Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. But Google has done well. Were you wrong?

A. This is how I saw it: that Google has three major challenges in front of it. No. 1 is competition. They have a lot of money, a lot of power and they want Google’s business, so probably No. 1 for Google is competition. Problem 2 for Google is what I call “switching costs.” There are no switching costs to move from one search engine to another. Before Google, I used AltaVista. I changed to Google in about 27 seconds. I will leave Google in about 27 seconds. The third problem is, Google is a fantastic technology for a page-oriented, HTML-based Internet, which is what we have today. The problem is, we’re not going to stay in a page-oriented world.

Q. That assumes that Google wouldn’t be able to adapt. And we’re still going to need to search through all the information out there.

A. I’m just saying, if the library’s changed the way it’s organized, the way you search will be different. The old card catalog won’t work as well.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.