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Predictions Priorities and Perspective

January 4, 1999
by Pat McClellan

Time to look back at my predictions for 98 and see how I did. I promise that I will neither brag nor apologize.

Predictions

Fastest Pentium/Mac. Others predicted 333 to 500 MHz. I predicted that MHz wouldn't be a useful measure, but also that we'd be seeing numbers in the 750 range. Turns out 750 is more like the price! In fact, with all the competing levels of chips from Intel and AMD -- and especially with the G3, MHz is actually pretty useless except when comparing Apple's to Apple's -- or other chips to themselves.

This time last year, Java Export from Director was being touted as a big deal. It might be... eventually, but it wasn't for 98. Did anybody out there use it for anything? On a related topic, I predicted that ActiveX would replace Java as Wall Street's sweetheart in 98. Turns out that the Dept of Justice was watching Microsoft, so there wasn't much effort from Gates & Co to openly kick Sun -- except in court. Sure was fun to see Gates testifying on video... he looked more nervous than Clinton. Too bad about his memory though; apparently he can't remember a lot about MS's competitive strategy. Go figure.

Netscape/Explorer. Whoa! I correctly predicted that you wouldn't need a separate browser for Windows systems (you can just use Windows Explorer, not IE.) But, IE is still around -- and the subject of all that Dept of Justice attention. In the meantime, AOL swooped in and grabbed Netscape. Does anybody out there see any good coming from this?

OK, I was wrong about Apple naming Oprah to be CEO. More than that, nobody predicted Apple's spectacular turnaround -- largely driven by the iMac. Since it's debut in August, it is the best selling PC on the market. So what's up for Apple in 99? I think we'll see more big things from Jobs' Mob. A laptop version of the iMac... and a higher end one as well. We'll see a lot more of that aquamarine translucent plastic too -- and not just from Apple. As for the corporation, it could be the target of a big acquisition. Jobs has turned Apple back into a lean money-making machine. He's also maintained his status as "interim-CEO". Both of these factors make Apple attractive to mega-corps. Did I hear somebody say Disney?

1999

As I think about predictions for '99, it occurs to me that it might be more productive to focus on those issues which will impact my business more directly. You should do the same for your business. I prefer to think of them as priorities, rather than predictions. These are ideas that will play a key role in planning my business for the next year.

Prioirites

I think that this time next year, I will still be using Director. The new features of D7 make it a compelling upgrade, so I'll be making that purchase immediately.

I think I can go another year without learning Java. This will be a huge investment of time and energy, but I think I'll be able to keep busy with paying non-Java work for 99. On the other hand, databases will be key to my business in the coming year. Database driven dynamic web pages... database driven Director aps. See the next point.

E-Commerce is going to be even bigger in 99 than in 98. This is a huge opportunity for anyone with technical know-how. Since the advent of the web and Shockwave, we've struggled to make people "get it"... that it's more than just a place to post your company brochure. Thanks to billions of dollars of e-commerce, now they get it.

As we end 99, I expect that we will still be in a multi-platform world. So, I need to maintain cross-platform capabilities in both hardware and software. Same goes for browsers, though AOL compatibility will likely become more important. Drat.

Perspective

The turn of the New Year is a ready-made time for introspection. Take this opportunity to look at your career and your business. Think back to the time when you started your business -- what you thought you wanted to do. Are you doing it? How has it evolved? Are you happy with the direction you're going?

Most likely, things are different that you'd planned -- for better or worse. That's ok, but it's time to re-assess, set some new goals and make an action plan. Here are some questions that might help:

When you've examined these questions, you need to face the biggest question of all: What are you going to do about it? Dream or complain... nobody gives a cat-fling if you don't do something about it. And nobody is going to do it for you.

Now, some comments on business planning. Most business plans are no more accurate predictors of the future than my mediocre prescience about '98. But that doesn't make it any less valuable as a tool. To be honest, the actual plan is not half as important as the planning process. The process encourages you to examine yourself, your business, and the environment in which you're working. The formality of the process helps give you some perspective. And writing things down often helps your level of commitment to your action items.

These concepts are no less important to employees of a company. Instead of a business plan, think of it as a personal development plan. You'll probably find that this plan will be helpful in filling out perennial nuisance -- your job performance evaluation.

Good luck with your plan. My closing point: do it now.

Patrick McClellan is Director Online's co-founder. Pat is Vice President, Managing Director for Jack Morton Worldwide, a global experiential marketing company. He is responsible for the San Francisco office, which helps major technology clients to develop marketing communications programs to reach enterprise and consumer audiences.

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