Editorial comment.

Author:Prickett, Ruth
 
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In an ideal world, technological advances would be great news for company finances--to listen to some providers' promises, you could be forgiven for assuming that this ideal world actually exists in every firm other than your own. Of course, technology has always been limited by people's ability to use it, and this limitation has been exacerbated by fear and alienation. In the 19th century, people feared for their jobs and bemoaned a decline in quality. In the 20th century, their concerns multiplied in line with the rate of innovation. As machines performed ever more miraculous tasks, new problems arose about security, personal service and isolation. Futuristic ideas of societies where everyone worked from remote white boxes, food was delivered in nutritional pills and books were replaced by on-line libraries now seem strangely old-fashioned. And then technology shares proved to be subject to exactly the same forces as non-tech stocks--the dotcom crash of the late 1990s was reminiscent of every other bubble in financial history.

The space age, it seems, may be all rocket science, but it has to abide by the same economic and social laws as any other industry. It's therefore reassuring to see that Nasa, one of the most high-tech organisations on the planet (and maybe beyond), is relying on CIMA member Owen Barwell to put its finances on solid ground (page 16). Nasa appears to have learnt the same lessons as those high-tech firms that survived the dotcom crash. Mike James's company, for example, blends precision engineering with high-tech software to...

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