May 202010

Cutter is primarily known as being a consortium of internationally recognized IT experts.  But in the past, we also had an environmental division that published many cutting-edge journals. This might not sound like a logical pairing, but Cutter’s mission, whether in the realm of environment or IT, has always been to deliver meaningful, objective information, based on the thoughtful input of experts in the field. The spill in the Gulf of Mexico has inspired me to do a bit of a corporate retrospective.

Parade Magazine, May 14, 1989

Parade Magazine, May 14, 1989

Twenty-two years ago, Cutter’s Oil Spill Intelligence Report served as a global clearinghouse of oil spill news and information. Just prior to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, we highlighted the potential risk of a spill disaster off the Alaska coast. And shortly after the spill took place, we predicted that spill cleanup technology would only give us the ability to recover about 10% of the oil from such a massive spill. Sadly, this fact was confirmed in research over the decades that followed.

Two years later, Cutter’s Global Environmental Change Report surveyed key climate change scientists, from 41 countries, across many scientific disciplines, about the impact of CO2 emissions, still in dispute then.  The results of that Cutter survey, reported in both Nature and Science in the spring of 1990, showed that 93% of the 330 responding scientists believed that some significant warming would occur over the next century, and nearly 90% thought that countries should take immediate action to reduce CO2 emissions despite the scientific uncertainties that existed at the time.

So what does this have to do with IT? Our passion to “get it right” means that we repeatedly find ourselves ahead of the pack in terms of the timing and accuracy of our forecasts.  For example, the Cutter Business Technology Council’s series of Pandemic Opinions, released in 2001, forecast security threats we face today.  But we’re not all doom and gloom.  We were publishing on agile software development and project management techniques in the 1990s, and on technology-driven innovation, insourcing, and other trends way before their time!

Our Trends Council’s latest look at the threats posed by large-scale, complex systems brings us back to the risk management domain and the consequences of looking the other way. We’ll send you this new Opinion when it’s released so you can take a look at another issue worth focusing on before its time has come. Just let us know you want it in the comments!


Karen Coburn

Karen Fine Coburn is President & CEO of Cutter Information LLC. She leads Cutter's strategic positioning and growth initiatives, including building and managing alliances as well as Cutter's relationships with its +100 consultants.


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