Is IT finally getting it?

Dec 27 2012 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

One of the many things I get accused of regularly is being too hard on IT people. It's high time I tossed them a metaphorical bone so here it goes: I suspect that more than ever, IT people are starting to "get" how people actually work with technology. Good on you.

This has been a long time coming, but hey, it's only fair to recognize when things are getting better. Now, let me be clear, I haven't suddenly had some change of heart about being mean to people. At my age I now qualify as a curmudgeon, which is sort of an endearing and entertaining quality (one would hope) and not as just a jerk.

But I was going through some old books the other day and came across 8 Things We Hate About IT, by Susan Cramm. Just for grins I went through it and realized that many of those reasons no longer apply in quite the same way.

For example, the very first thing on her list was "You Need Service, IT Needs Control". Those control needs still exist for some good reasons (not wanting your network at the mercy of Belorussian ne'er-do-wells, just as an example) but in a world of multiple platforms, cloud computing versus maintaining huge server farms and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) IT's ability, not to mention its willingness, to stem the demand of people for simpler, more user-friendly, processes didn't go unheeded.

Why this change has come about is an open question. I would like to think it's because the people who fund IT realized that form must follow function, not the other way around. Maybe they got tired of the hypocrisy in keeping people to standards they were working around on a regular basis. (Oh they only started using their iPhones at work when it was allowed? Yeah, right.)

What I REALLY think is that someone's boss got an IPad for Christmas and was ticked off they couldn't use it. When salespeople complain about not being able to use their personal phones for work, that's whining. When the CEO asks, it's a funded project with a short timeline. So it goes.

The truth is, though, that as we move to Software As a Service, (SAAS) versus enterprise-wide installations, phone and tablet apps that allow us to do business-level work on consumer devices and those devices become too cheap, portable and effective to ignore, the reasons for a lot of those old rules, standards and regulations have gone away.

The big companies are getting it, too. Having tools that integrate smoothly, work well across platforms and are priced in a way that actually reflects reality is a big step.

Not that everything's all roses. We still have too many passwords to remember, and getting everyone to actually use the tools we have hasn't gotten any easier.

So, thank you, IT professionals for moving in the right, customer-centric direction. This doesn't forgive you for not providing proper training for tools, or responding quickly to requests. And if you think I'm going to stop making geek jokesÖ. Well you can bet the Borg that ain't happening. (Yes, I know I probably misused that term, and someone will write in to correct me. You know that will only make my point, right?)

When IT really focuses on what the work at hand requires, and understands how normal mortals interact with technology (as little as possible with very little drama, please) they can be the white knights they picture themselves.

Until then, keep up the good work, and we have a ways to go.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.