Everybody Hates the IT Guy

I suppose that if you work in an IT department you’re used to several irksome phenomena. A random sampler:
  • An assumption that you lack social and communication skills while having your emails ignored and not being asked to attend high-level meetings
  • An HR department that thinks your career ceiling is the CIO (Career Is Over) role
  • The general sense that you get a kick out of resetting passwords
  • Everybody else seeming to think they know how to do your job better than you do yourself despite their having no apparent qualifications
  • Being bypassed by line-of-business geniuses who know all about cool devices/apps/cloud services
  • Being patronised with gnomic comments along the lines of ‘IT must align with the business’
  • Conundrums such as being told to ‘do more with less’ while developing tools that create ‘strategic insights’
  • Being asked to innovate while also supporting information governance and security
  • Being told that IT is a critical source of ‘competitive differentiation’ by some and being told (by Nicholas G. Carr and others) that ‘IT doesn’t matter’ because it’s ‘just a utility’
  • Having people ask you to fix their personal devices, for nothing

Ignorance is a trait that often makes a best friend of Antagonism. The people who patronise IT do so, I think, because they don’t understand it and this absence of understanding leads to a reflex aggression or passive aggression. So we hear ideas that undermine IT staff and are really a form of wish fulfilment. In this category comes the notion that in the new world of remotely delivered services, there will be no need for IT managers or admins. Or else that marketers will soon spend more on IT than IT. Or the hardly veiled threat that unless they support a BYOD policy IT people risk being seen (the horror) as a blocker and cause of lacking ‘agility’.
IT gets the blame for the weaknesses of others. The venal C-suite execs that make dumb decisions but need somebody to kick. The sales people and marketers that proudly never talk to IT and therefore miss out on their knowledge of managing suppliers, deployment and so on.
While some admin tasks will become more automated it’s likely that IT will be needed for some time yet. That’s because, unlike many other aspects of running a business, technology changes quickly and to get the best out of it needs smart people who understand its protean nature, its near-infinite capacity for positive change. So IT, mocked, ignored and bullied will stick around for a while yet: until, let’s say, there are no more computers or businesses.  

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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