Welcome to the first post of 2008! I hope you all had a good relaxing time over the holidays with friends and families. I know I did! Now it's time to get back to work...
A few weeks ago, I asked what you thought of IT's apparent bad reputation, according to an article from CIO Insight and one of their readers' response to that article. I got quite a few reactions - this seems to have hit a nerve with many people. The general consensus seems to be that there are good IT techies that are known as trusted professionals, good IT organizations that work to give opportunities to their IT staff and good companies that understand the value of IT. But there are also slimy IT technicians that use tech talk to intimidate, dysfunctional IT organizations that hinder rather than help IT careers and many organizations that feel IT is just a necessary evil.
IT Individuals - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
From my own experiences, I've seen and worked in all kinds of environments. Most of the IT professionals I've worked with are hardworking individuals who love to solve problems and have an innate curiosity about how things work. However, there always seems to be one in every group that either is too smart for his or her own good and isn't able to talk in layman's terms to less technical people or seeks to confuse and seem smarter than everyone else by using lots of important sounding technical terms in everything they say. My feeling though is that these individuals are becoming less valued and are being forced to either learn some business acumen or be out of work.
There are also the folks that are only in it for their own gain. Unfortunately, these people usually become consultants. I know this as I worked as a consultant for many years and was constantly having to win the trust of senior management who had been taken advantage of by seemingly professional IT consultants who had come in, done little or shoddy work for a lot of money and then disappeared into thin air. However, I really think that it's becoming less easy for these people to do damage and disappear. People are becoming more informed. Business owners and management are talking, either on-line or in face to face networking groups. Reputations are being made and broken, not just in the local area where the damage was done, but in a wider scope. The extinction of this breed of IT predator can't happen fast enough, imho. They do a lot to give IT and IT professionals an undeserved bad reputation.
From the Companies' Perspective
As for companies, I think it's still very tough for organizations whose main business is not technology to understand the value of IT. One reader who works for a company in the biopharmaceutical business emailed me with a comment that it's sometimes hard not to be reactive when the people in the company don't understand the consequences to their actions. It's "...very hard if you work with Bio-scientists. They cannot imagine what are the consequences of buying a new spektrometer (sic) with [a] 4 GB output per hour...". I've seen this happen many times, where business decisions are made without any thought or understanding of the IT implications. So when Nicholas Spanos, the reader who responded to CIO Insight's original article, complains that there is a leadership void, I would encourage IT professionals to become the leader and trusted advisor within their organizations, so that business decisions are being made, they have a seat at the table. I know, I know - that's sometimes easier said than done! Well, for these companies, change won't happen overnight. But perhaps if the company isn't willing to change, it may be time for you to change companies. Just a thought.
Speaking of Nicholas Spanos, I really wonder why this guy is in IT at all. He seems to have a very ugly view of our field. Todd Lamothe said it best in his comment to my original post: "I am just glad I'm not working where he is." IT may not have the greatest reputation, but I believe it's changing. And it's changing from the inside out, through the efforts of IT professionals who love what they do and are working to make a difference. These are IT professionals who don't sit in a bad situation and complain but they work to change it for the better. Look around, I bet you know a couple of these people. Better yet, look in the mirror. The profession is what you make of it.