I've written several "Sounding Off" columns since joining Bank Technology News as senior editor last summer. This is my first as editor of the magazine.
A little context is in order: I learned I had been named editor about four hours prior to this writing. Normally, I'd be out toasting a promotion about which I'm extremely excited, but deadlines being what they are ...
Besides, I suspect I'll get around to the celebration part soon enough.
In any case, this is going to be an especially tough column to write, and not just because I'm now the top dog, big cheese, head honcho, numero uno. The problem is really one of mood-mine vs. yours.
Any decent writer keeps his or her readers in mind at every turn, and never more than in a column, a format in which you can allow yourself a little more journalistic elbowroom. The fact is, even on Maxwell House I'm feeling pretty good this evening. But, seeing as how this issue of BTN will arrive as the last of the first-quarter earnings results are trickling out, I'm hesitant to be too cheery.
I have this nagging feeling many of my readers aren't feeling all that jovial these days. Encountering someone who's positively bubbly when your feeling testy yourself, well, don't you just wanna smack them?
I understand. Really.
Still, it would be a pity to waste this good mood with a somber rehearsal of this "challenge" (read: "problem") and that "issue" (read: "problem" again) snaking through the current economy.
And most importantly, I think the curtain is coming down on the doom and gloom show-at least where banks and the companies that sell them technology are concerned.
After all, this column also is being written after a couple of pretty big days for both the Dow and Nasdaq; and while a little predictable profit taking has cooled the rally, there's definitely a difference in the market pundits' tone of late. The long-awaited "bottom"-that wonderful place from which things can only go up-may well have arrived at last.
There's another important element of this half-full vs. half-empty debate that puts me on the half-full side, and it's a perspective born of much more than a good mood. The excitement I feel over becoming editor of this magazine is due in large part to my conviction that information technology has only just begun to show its stuff.
A decade of sustained economic growth created an atmosphere in which hype became the order of the day. As you know, the lion's share of that hype revolved around IT.
In the equities markets, for example, the abundance of "killer app" hot air created a bubble that seemed destined to drift ever upward, invulnerable to the pinprick of the business cycle.
Now that it has burst, I think, financial services executives will begin to appreciate the true power of technology to drive business improvements-and importantly, improvements that flow to both the top and bottom lines.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has been making essentially the same point for years now: U.S. economic growth in the past 10 years or so has been fueled by virtually uninterrupted gains in productivity. Those productivity gains, in turn, have been fueled by technological advancements.
I want readers of this magazine to know that we will continue to do our best to exercise the skepticism that is characteristic of good journalism. The hype surrounding a great deal of technology, financial and otherwise, has grown tiresome. Naturally, one has even less patience for it in an economy bruised by rampant layoffs and the proliferation of Chapter 11s.
We know that reading hype won't help you, and we are committed to repaying our readers' time and attention with substantive coverage of bank technology-in other words, the kind of coverage that will be truly valuable to you.
But please don't expect us to lose our enthusiasm about the potential of technology to change the way the world does business. And to make it better.
The Internet, for example, may be Hype City for the hucksters, but those who insist that it changes everything-from culture to commerce- are not spreading hype. They're just paying attention. We believe it does, too.
I hope you'll let us know what you think.
In the meantime, Cheers!