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The Next Generation

Demographics is destiny, and in this month's issue, my colleague Marianne Kolbasuk McGee from InformationWeek lays out the undeniable facts: We're all getting older.

Demographics is destiny, and in this month's issue, my colleague Marianne Kolbasuk McGee from InformationWeek lays out the undeniable facts: We're all getting older (page 20). I believe that those of us in the information technology business tend to have a keener sense of our own mortality. We're constantly dealing with "end of life" software and hardware.

We struggle to support legacy systems that creak along until they're put out to pasture, replaced by the latest and greatest tools that are no sooner installed then they become legacy systems in their own rights. We watch as our once-proud hardware runs out of memory and struggles to perform the most basic tasks. And we also conceive of new systems, nurture them along until they're sustainable and send them out into the world to earn a living.

With the retirement of the baby boomers, the first generation to manage the integration of global business and information technology will no longer act as caretakers to the national IT infrastructure. Instead, they'll be booking times at the local golf course. This poses a unique challenge for financial services organizations that depend upon these people, not just because they possess a certain skill set, but because they share -- and helped to define -- the industry's goals and values.

Fortunately, there are ways that the older generation can transmit knowledge to the younger generation, and Bank Systems & Technology can be part of that process. Specifically, what are all the retired bankers going to do after they're done gardening? They're going to surf the Web, and they're going to want to hold forth on whatever they know, to whomever will listen. And we're here to provide that forum.

Personally, in my role as commentator on banking technology, I see retirees as my No. 1 competitive threat. Let's face it: I have a good command of the English language, I'm fairly prolific and I understand how the financial system works, but I've never worked for a bank, and my hands-on tech experience has been limited to running a medium-size business, not a megabank. Soon, people in my position will be competing for bylines with a bunch of bored pensioners who have 40 years of experience at big banks.

So it's time for me to move along and make room for the next generation. This has been my last month on the editorial staff of Bank Systems & Technology. I have accepted a position as technical analyst with BS&T's parent company, CMP Media, acting as a liaison between the business users and the IT group. This is a chance to apply the lessons I've learned from writing about financial services -- finding efficiencies in manufacturing, creating multichannel distribution, implementing know-your-customer practices throughout the organization and achieving competitive advantage through the successful management of technology.

I've learned from the best. Thank you.

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