Asks questions — but gives no answers

Asks questions — but gives no answers

Asks questions - - but gives no answers H J van O u t e n (Ed.) "The competitive strength of the information and communication industry in Europe" Mar...

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Asks questions - - but gives no answers H J van O u t e n (Ed.) "The competitive strength of the information and communication industry in Europe" Martinus Nijhoff, the Netherlands (1983) $32.50, 192 pp

This is a curious publication. It was compiled by'experts' and claims to represent an integrated view of Europe's strengths and weaknesses in the information and communication industry. It also has some recommendations which if not followed will herald a 'very grim outlook indeed' for the industry. The thrust of these integrated views compiled by management consultants (referred to as the agents of change) and under the auspices of FEACO (the European club of management consultants' organizations) is that without some substantial efforts at coordination and cooperation, European companies are doomed. Governments will be subject to political pressure by suppliers (the USA and Japan) and there will be no new jobs. This is not new. The remedies, however, seem to rely on magic. A new agency, The European Information and Communication Agency, (EICA), is to be created basically to coordinate R&D. It is however also tasked to: • develop a coherent European plan, • unify and harmonize rules and regulations which do not require political decisionl • promote normalization, • create an effective organization to normalize, • create databases on R&D, patents, scientific and technical literature, • allocate funds for R&D. Better links between education and industry, improved IT awareness and radical changes in education are also prescribed. All well and good, but the book is

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radically short of answers. The how is never really addressed, only the what. Many references are made to US and Japanese success, and yet no examination takes place as to why these successes have occurred. Constraints are rehearsed; such as market size, language and cultural differences, different production standards and different commercial attitudes. Yet the US and Japanese companies have to meet the same conditions, and they succeed. Why is never examined. Aiming a few punches at the old chestnuts of inferior marketing, preoccupation with national requirements, duplicated research, the author wags his finger at management for not achieving lower costs of production. Helpful statements abound. 'Giving the employer a share in the financial results of the company will probably also increase the motiva-

tion'. And again, 'short-term improvement will result from: • bringing down wages and salaries, • having well-managed, productoriented development projects'. I am concerned that here is another book (poorly printed with typesetting errors and appallingly translated into English) which cannot comprehend that the USA and Japan have faced Europe and found their ways of selling into the market and overcoming all the difficulties. The creation of standard procedures of a'single plan for all European countries' and other centralized bureaucratic impositions will do nothing for opportunity and agility. The arguments about more investment into education and more risk money are the only ones I found convincing. Perhaps they are the only ones that matter! There is much less in this book that meets the eye. Alan Benjamin CAP UK

Not just another LAN book D C Flint

"The data ring main: an introduction to local area networks' Wiley, UK (1983) £.19.50, 375 pp As with so many subjects, interest in local area networks (LANs) comes from a variety of people with different standpoints. Amongst these are (would be) designers and implementers of LAN products and of systems based on them, the University or College student intent on learning about principles and practices, the researcher investigating new ground and the potential user interested in what's available and how to choose a suitable LAN. No one book is likely to satisfy the requirements of such a variety; David Flint's book will appeal most

strongly to the potential LAN user in the last category. This confirms the general intention stated in his Preface. The somewhat strange title (not as silly as it sounds) is less suitable than the subtitle--this is a good introduction to LAN technologies. It is a solid piece of work, well researched and clearly written, and extensively illustrated with helpful diagrams. There is a long set of references (though with some surprising omissions) and an adequate index. The material towards the end of the book, on choosing a local network, is of less obvious value but evidently reflects the author's own approach in tackling this kind of assignment. The book's main strengths lie in its wide coverage of commercially available LANs and other wellknown implementations. Protocol

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