Forecasts help direct business

Market forecasts can be tremendously useful in establishing business goals. The problem is that such information, when it is available at all, is often only to be found in the expensive, limited-distribution studies published by market research firms. These reports usually have pricetags in the multiple thousands of dollars, so they find the most use among well-heeled cable and component manu- facturers, and are very rarely seen by smaller contracting and service companies.

Dec 1st, 1997

Arlyn S. Powell, Jr.

Market forecasts can be tremendously useful in establishing business goals. The problem is that such information, when it is available at all, is often only to be found in the expensive, limited-distribution studies published by market research firms. These reports usually have pricetags in the multiple thousands of dollars, so they find the most use among well-heeled cable and component manu- facturers, and are very rarely seen by smaller contracting and service companies.

An inexpensive alternative to pricey market studies is industry forecasts published in trade journals--or perhaps newsletters such as Cabling News, the companion publication to Cabling Installation & Maintenance, from which most of the information used in this article was compiled.

Some industry forecasts are one-off, and usually come in special issues of scientific or technical magazines. Scientific American (New York), for example, did a special issue entitled "Key Technologies for the 21st Century" in September 1995, and cio magazine (Framingham, MA) published a special issue subtitled "What Will the Future Hold: I.T. in the Next Millennium," with a cover date of 12/15/95-1/1/96. Industry Week (Cleveland, OH) has also tackled the millennial theme with "The Next 25: How to Manage Your Company, Your Job, and Your Life" (8/21/95).

As entertaining and informative as these special issues may be, however, they are rarely specific enough to help us in the day-to-day task of running our businesses. For this we require the annual forecast issues of the trade journals we regularly read. At present there is no such overview of the telecommunications cabling industry that I know of, but several apply to closely related fields. Data Commu- nications magazine (McGraw-Hill, New York), for example, publishes an annual market forecast of the data-communications market in its December issue. Laser Focus World magazine (PennWell Publishing Co., Nashua, NH) does the same thing for the laser market in its January issue, and its sister publication, Lightwave, overviews the fiber- optics market in December of each year. Electrical Contractor magazine (Bethesda, MD) also publishes occasional surveys of the electrical-contracting industry.

The Laser Focus World market overview is paralleled in PennWell`s laser-industry newsletter, Laser Report, and the fiber-optics market is also covered in the last issue each year of Fiber Optics News, a newsletter from Phillips Business Information (Potomac, MD).

This year, the January 15th issue of Cabling News was devoted to a year-end review 1996 and a look at the trends to watch in 1997 (and we hope this will become an annual tradition), as well as the definitive source of annual business- and technology-trend information for the telecommunications cabling industry. And, of course, if reader response is positive to the technological and business review articles that follow, we will publish an annual review and forecast for 1998-99 next December.

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