First, technology produced the boom. Then it brought the bust. And now? Will it lead us into another round of gizmo-led growth? We asked two of the smartest investors around. Here’s their take on the technofuture.

Venture partner, Highland Capital Partners
Lexington, Massachusetts

I’ve always been skeptical of the concept of “the next big thing.” Markets are long-term, and successful long-term markets have always been evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary. It’s dangerous to lose sight of that as we did during the Internet euphoria.

I also believe that the technology market will fol-low rather than lead the recovery. It won’t be until late 2003 that we’ll see strong growth from this segment of the economy. We’ve seen extensive cost cutting across most business sectors. It was at the forefront of the cost cutting because it was at the forefront of the overspending.

As a business culture, we’ve invested billions of dollars in bits and bytes and gadgets and features without investing similarly in
the organizational changes necessary to deploy that technology
effectively. Technology exists to build a better brand or to improve customer relations — pick your objective. But we have been implementing technology over the past few years almost without regard for the changes that it demands of our organizations. And that’s where the great opportunity lies. Quit looking for the next big thing. Put the technology that’s sitting on the shelves to work, and do it with a clear purpose. Empower your employees. Change the process. Make a contribution to organizational effectiveness.

Bob Davis focuses his investments for Highland Capital Partners on information technology. Davis founded the Internet company Lycos in 1995, serving as CEO until its merger with Terra in 2000. He then served as CEO of Terra Lycos until he joined Highland Capital Partners in April 2001.