RealTime IT News

20th TechXNY Stresses IT 'Needs'

When it kicks off its 20th year as one of the biggest information technology trade shows on the east coast, organizers of New York's TechXNY and PCExpo will have adjusted their themes and marketing to reflect the economic realities facing the technology industry.

For starters, that means catering to attendees shopping for IT "needs" rather than the cutting edge IT "wants" during the conference and exhibition at the Jacob Javits Center June 24th through the 27th. "I think the 45,000 attendees we're expecting will be looking for more practical products that will solve specific problems," said Christina Condos, the director of the show for the sponsor, technology publisher CMP Media.

A poll CMP conducted with this year's attendees showed the most interest in security, wireless, business intelligence and storage. Between 35 percent and 48 percent said they expect their IT budgets in these areas to either remain the same or increase in the next six months.

The trend helps explain keynote appearances this year by representatives of both the FBI and a technology venture firm of the CIA.

During his keynote address, Walter Wright, FBI supervisory special agent, is expected to touch on the new era dawning for the bureau as it responds to President Bush's directive to reorganize amid criticism over how it handled terrorist investigations before and after September 11th.

Gilman Louie, chief executive of In-Q-Tel, the non-profit venture capital arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, is also expected to be a draw because of its post-September 11th mandates. In-Q-Tel was created in 1999 in order to help the CIA get cutting edge security technology into use more quickly. Since last fall when the Defense Department announced that it was looking for new security products to help fight terrorism, thousands of companies have responded with proposals.

Right now, In-Q-Tel has investments in about 20 portfolio companies, and is said to be looking for more, especially in knowledge management products.

Because of the President's order to reorganize and modernize both the FBI and the CIA, it's also no secret that the government is looking to spend more than it usually does on new technology -- especially on tools that help agencies manage and sift through huge amounts of data.

As far as other trends in the CMP poll, "we're also seeing budget increases for the mainstream IT products: PC network products, Web site development and peripherals," Condos said.

Sixty-three percent of the attendees CMP polled said they had been negatively impacted by the economic downturn, including working longer hours because of staff layoffs, and capital investments as well as software development projects that are still on hold.

The sentiment may help explain why seminar attendance is up this year as attendees look for more bang from their participation bucks. For example, two-day "boot camps" in Windows 2000 and Linux development are proving popular draws, she said, followed by the Java, Web services and XML seminars.

Beyond security and data storage, other keynote address themes are shaping up as a mix of the practical while looking to the future.

Jeff Raikes, Microsoft's group vice president of productivity and business services for Microsoft, is expected to discuss trends in "next generation knowledge worker productivity."

A keynote special panel including executives from Cisco Systems, HP, PalmSource and Novell, will discuss "Integrating Business and IT Yesterday and Tomorrow."

IBM's Nicholas M. Donofrio, senior vice president of technology and manufacturing, is expected to continue framing the company's vision of the next wave of open source computing platforms. Plus, David Nagel, CEO of PalmSource, will make his pitch about the "the future of handhelds in the enterprise."

The flat spending outlook doesn't mean the over 300 exhibitors, including every major name in technology, won't spare their cutting edge technologies either. Exhibitors such as Microsoft, Sun, Palm, IBM and HP are gearing up to rain down a week of product announcements and alliances highlighting their latest wares.

And although security, storage and mobile technologies are among the top interests with developers, the "DVExpo" showcase of digital video, including DVD multi drives that write to all DVD formats, is expecting brisk traffic. Just as last year's wireless exhibitors drew more consumer interest than IT executives, white hot DVD technology and supporting products could be a similar draw this year.

Still, although the show is spread out among three floors this year, it is slightly smaller than last year's, Condos conceded. "It's been a challenging year for everyone," not only in the technology industry but in the tech press as well.

"But I think many involved in the show also know that (the difficulties) are not a forever thing and that they need to continue to look at products and product categories."