The Good, Bad Ugly

Job cuts in the IT industry continue unabated with Sun Microsystems the latest casualty of the continuing economic downturn. Sun joins a long list of IT companies slashing staff both here and overseas. The uncertainty created by the September 11 terrorist attacks is sure to influence hiring patterns for some time and the latest ANZ job survey has warned the unemployment rate in Australia could worsen before year's end. This sorry state of affairs is bound to take some of the gloss off the Christmas season.

The Good

Those still in the ranks of the employed can make a charitable gesture during the holiday season by visiting The Christmas Web site has more than 100 animations and was created to raise income for charities around the world. By downloading an animation, users donate $10 to their favourite charity. Not a single cent goes to the site and more than $5000 has been raised in the last three years. Creator of the site Susan Flashman ( said her goal is to eventually raise $1 million for charity.

The Bad

In these bad old days of terrorism and hijackings a black veil of fear has befallen the world, but it is in this climate defence forces worldwide strive to showcase their technological know-how and military might. Last week Dr Brendan Nelson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, previewed Australia's latest high-tech weapon, the ViewCASE. This is a videoconferencing facility that fits neatly into a briefcase and can be used from anywhere in the world. He pointed to James Bond, claiming "OO7 would not feel out of place in our Defence Force of today." Osama bin Laden doesn't quite fit the mould of a James Bond villian - remember Pussy Galore, The Claw and Dr No?

The Ugly

Slower business conditions have recently triggered a strong trend to discounting among management consultants; some of the biggest firms have cut their rates by as much as 50 per cent.

Bigger consultancies are discounting heavily to gain a foothold in the marketplace.

According to Robert Muir, director, Agility Consulting: "The big firms are hurting, particularly in areas like ERP (enterprise resource planning), which have provided their bread, their butter, as well as their chardonnay during the past five years."

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