I work in technology and I sometimes think that technology sucks. Recently I started learning programming in jscript, as I wrote on this blog a few weeks back, but just the other day I was challenged to program our coffee maker at home. When my wife saw that, the promptly said “Didn’t you say you where learning programming?”. I replied “Coffee makers haven’t been covered yet!”. So sad!
This example illustrates that even I a sometimes challenged using very simple technology, but I think it is fair to say that I should have mastered the coffee maker without any special training classes. Software and Office computers should behave like coffeemakers these days. They should neither require special skill sets to work with them, or to fix them. If they are broken, you want to call the manufacturer to get it fixed within the warranty, and call wal-mart, dell or best buy to get a new one, once they are outside of warranty, since buying new is cheaper than fixing. On top of this, computers are self healing to a certain degree, they install patches automatically, they even send issues off to the manufacturers of software and hardware and notify you when the issue is resolved.
This is all work that used to be done by IT folks in IT departments. The problem is, that we still have the very same type of folks sitting in offices across North America. These people have specialized in tasks that are no longer required, but they have not evolved into business analyst that help people to use MS-Excel more efficient, or help extracting data from their ERP Systems for users. If this sounds a lot like your organization, you definitely have the wrong people in your IT Department, you have unable IT-Folks.
Unfortunately it is not that easy, because I also see a lot of times, that unable IT departments have been disabled by management. I see the very same situation in a lot of organizations: Cheap technologies could make business processes faster, easier, better, safer, reliable and efficient. These are sometimes not big ticket items, but somehow the case of investing into these simple solutions is not accepted or seen by upper management. Sometimes the technology guy cannot make the business case, sometimes the business guy is too inept with technology.
Technology is moving lightning fast these days. Even people in technology have a hard time keeping up, and I think it is common to get disconnected between IT and Management. But what I do not get is, that companies cannot install an IT Manager that can be trusted that has a budget and can, to a degree, evolve and explore the possibilities that make the company more efficient. We do install trusted managers with budgets in all departments across our organizations, why aren’t we able to enable our IT departments to develop more than able people in our organizations?