Here are my forecasts and views on developments affecting travel
technology and the computer industry in 1998.
1. Windows 98 will be available early in the year and is
probably worth installing because all the patches and updates to
Windows 95 will be collected in one place. There are several minor
tool improvements, but new automatic update features will drive
some users to distraction.
2. My 1997 list said Microsoft has too much unhealthy dominance
over small-computer software and technology. In October the Justice
Department took action to force some reconsideration and a
settlement respecting the Internet Explorer was reached. More
competition in small-computer software is in the interests of the
3. Windows NT and related networking products are basically
tools enabling people to use ever-bigger PCs; Unix remains the
platform of choice for commercial development.
4. Forget 58K modems. Most users will achieve results
substantially less than 58K under real-world conditions. If more
Internet through-put is a priority, ISDN circuits should be your
next communications upgrade.
5. DVD (the replacement for CD-ROM) had a good year this
Christmas, but there are competing (and incompatible) standards
that have yet to sort themselves out. In other words, it is too
soon to buy much DVD hardware.
6. Smart cards may make sense from a data and transaction
security standpoint. Beyond that, the justification is far less
clear. Don't waste time here.
7. The same Internet issues that were in place in 1997 remain
for 1998: security, content, customers, technology and revenue.
Internet hysteria will probably be rampant all year. Eventually the
problems must be addressed if sustainable businesses are to
8. Don't count on widespread CRS alternatives this year. This is
a longer-term trend that will focus on vendors, offering their own
alternatives, not a new, neutral CRS. Some suppliers will continue
disrupting the agency system through compensation adjustments
(i.e., pay cuts and bonuses), product changes and
preferred-supplier deals. Expect erratic behavior because few
agents or vendors understand the implications of emerging
technology or changing distribution priorities.
David Wardell is president of USMatrix, a technology
firm in Washington. He can be reached at