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Do Not Annoy IT Part III

2010-01-16

Category: General

This is the third installment of Do Not Annoy IT. Part I, Part II

Why do people abuse their I.T. staff?

I.T. is in an unusual position. The technology is pervasive in society but few people understand. People see computers as magic boxes that do stuff. As long as the technology works quietly in the background, no one really gives it any thought. When things stop working, people get frustrated.

We are the shamans of this culture. The people fear and respect us. They praise us when things are good but feel uneasy because we walk in too many worlds and cavort with strange entities. They expect us to stay in our hermitage in the woods when the crops grow and call us when the hail falls. The chieftains fear that we may usurp their power or turn the people against them.

The people call on us when things go bad. We show up, babbling in a strange language about strange things. We shake our bones and chant our chants and the visions return to bring light and peace and funny videos. They are grateful, but suspicious of the power we hold over that magic box.

That analogy sums it up nicely. There is a lot of mistrust. Most people only have a vague idea of what we do. They do feel that they are over reliant on the technology and, therefore, on us. Then there is the cost.

Managers tend to look at costs and revenue. Unless your company actually does just I.T., there is no revenue associated with the tech, only cost. That means the managers are always looking to cut that cost where they can.

Because they don't fully understand what I.T. does, they think they should cut staff when things appear to be working. They don't see the work it takes to keep everything working. The remaining staff has to do more without an increase in the time available to do it. This stresses everybody. The result is that I.T. can't service the users in a timely fashion, which upsets the users. The users complain about I.T. and the manager wonders why they have to keep these clowns who seem to be incapable of doing their job. So, the I.T. budget gets cut a bit more.

In general, I.T. people have little loyalty to their employers. You can see this in the way that many I.T. professionals jump from one employer to the next every two to three years. This also comes from the way I.T. is managed.

There aren't usually any growth opportunities for I.T. personnel in many companies. Management positions go to people with business degrees, so I.T. people can't move up easily. Employers want to keep costs down on I.T., which is just a money sink anyway, so raises aren't readily available. If the I.T pro wants to advance, he or she does it by jumping ship. The bad side of this is that managers start thinking they shouldn't put any resources into advancing their I.T. staff because the ingrates will just leave anyway.

New education programs have popped up that specialize in technology management. The community hopes that this will lead to managers who can bridge the gap between the techs and the business people. Growth is slow, however.


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