Year-end cleanup

Here I go, doing an end-of-year emptying of the desk drawer—figuratively speaking, of course. Anybody who has been unfortunate enough to see my desk knows that there is not a square inch on its surface, in any of its drawers, or within five feet around it that is not stacked high with press releases, schedules, notebooks, photos, and other articles that make my work space pretty much an eyesore.

Here I go, doing an end-of-year emptying of the desk drawer—figuratively speaking, of course. Anybody who has been unfortunate enough to see my desk knows that there is not a square inch on its surface, in any of its drawers, or within five feet around it that is not stacked high with press releases, schedules, notebooks, photos, and other articles that make my work space pretty much an eyesore.

My mind, on the other hand—now that is something that is quite often and quite noticeably empty. So, please allow me to indulge in a little end-of-year mind-cleaning:

  • CommScope's purchase of Avaya's connectivity systems business (including, most important to us, its Systimax structured cabling brand) has to be the biggest vendor news our industry has seen in a long time—probably since Tyco Electronics bought AMP. (See page 40.) Those of you attending the BICSI Winter conference next month in Orlando, expect a big splash there—and details that will actually affect how we conduct our business should follow shortly thereafter. We at CI&M will keep you informed in print and online.
  • The fiberphiles won't stop, nor should they. The latest cost model from the Fiber Optics LAN Section (FOLS) of the TIA makes a strong case for the cost-effectiveness of all-fiber systems. The truth is still the truth: optical networking gear is more expensive than copper-based networking gear. But don't get too comfortable with that truth. (Some fiberphiles, in fact, call it a myth.) Maybe 95% of your customer base wants to do things the way they always have, and won't really listen to an "alternative" system approach. But that remaining 5% could very well thank you for your innovative thinking if you're educated enough to explain it to them. Or, they could thank your competitor for it. And 5% seems like a lot of market share to give up. I know it is in the magazine biz, anyway.
  • For all the talk about sharing printers and working at home, it won't be anything even resembling business activity that eventually will drive the residential cabling market. It will be entertainment. Pure, unadulterated, mind-numbing entertainment. I'm talking about two people in one house in the Midwest playing frighteningly realistic-looking video games over the Internet with the game's inventors who are in Japan. Each member of the household downloading his or her own movie rather than fighting about what to order from the cable company's pay-per-view menu. And there are other forms of entertainment that haven't yet been conceived, or that I have not climbed out of my shell to discover. Whatever it is, it won't be work. I am quite sure of that. In fairness, I didn't think of this one myself. I heard it from a member of our industry who has teenage children and, therefore, is keenly tuned into the coming-together of these dynamics. I just happen to fully subscribe to his theory.
  • On a similar note, let's hope this fiber-to-the-premises hubbub includes at least a little steak behind all the sizzle. I'm not yet convinced, but that's mostly because of my previous traumatic experiences with hope and expectation. See, I'm a Boston Red Sox fan.

By virtue of the fact that you're reading this, it means you have just about made it through 2003 in the cabling industry. Nobody has done that without hard work and sacrifice in some, or many, areas. At this time of year when it is common to reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to the next 12, give yourself credit for your accomplishments. Remember what you're really working for. And continue to work hard for it.

Patrick McLaughlin
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com

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