I'm not a big car racing fan. But I get caught up in the Indianapolis 500 every year. I love the announcment, “Gentlemen, start your engines.” And then, with addition of the ladies, it became, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.” This is always an exciting moment. The engines all start with a roar. A roar that seems to voice the energy that the drivers, the pit crews and the fans all have in anticipation of the green flag dropping and the beginning of the race — not unlike the recent Wireless Systems Conference in San Jose.
Like the 500, it seems everyone in the industry is ready for the race for recovery. Everything is prepared. Yet, where is the green flag to begin the race to bring the industry back?
That was the major question of nearly everyone I talked with at the conference. I talked with about 40 companies over the course of the conference. The theme from almost all of them: We are ready. We have products. We have never stopped designing new products. Our shelves are seeing depleting excess stock. We are ready for the next push. The drivers are in position, but the engines sit in relative silence.
I was impressed with the amount of positive anticipation companies have toward a recovery. They are cautious, to be sure. But the optimism is there.
Can the answer lie in the nation's recovery?
According to the economic wizards, including Greenspan and members of the Federal Reserve Board, as well as many economic indicators, the recession was short-lived and the economy is rebounding.
For the telecom industry to rebound, the national economy will have to do it first. In past years, it was technology that led the way. Not now. Blame it on the dot-com disaster or over-inflated tech stocks; tech companies will be pulled into recovery — a recovery that I projected would come yet this year. That was before that little energy company down in Houston took a header.
Mistrust in big companies
With the Enron fiasco came a question mark about how other “very sucessful” companies became successful. We know about Global Crossing, but now there are questions concerning other telecom companies and how they counted their pennies. Wall Street now watches telecom with a cautious eye.
Will the military help bring a recovery?
Military spending is going to increase and will have an impact. How much is yet to be seen, but I believe any company would be foolish to ignore the potential of its products for military applications. Remember the COTS mandate. Last year, for the first time, commercial purchase exceeded Mil-Spec. Also consider that the Pentagon is spending an additional $48 billion — much going to command, control and communications.
So, keep at the ready. The race for recovery is coming.