IT isn’t always fun, nor is life but achieving business benefit and making a difference is what it should be all about.
As a technology leader and evangelist it’s always important to try and see the wood for the trees and look forward to how IT can enable, empower and change people’s lives. To me that’s what I try and practise and enjoy the most. Technology, like everything else comes and goes. During the last 20 years, I’ve as a lot of others have witnessed extensive changes in IT, including the rise and crash of the internet boom, movement away from IT closets to mega datacentres, 9600 broad modems, Compuserve and AOL to Cloud Service Providers, Year 2000 application overhauls, Centralised applications to Mobile applications, DEC Alpha’s to NVidia Grid GPU based computing, the rise of a windows based thin client industry to a Virtual desk, and lastly one of the biggest shifts in the past few years, the move from a physical system world to virtualisation system world.
The most fundamental thing that happens in life is change. To me change is what can make IT FUN and rewarding. We can’t hold change back even though as humans we don’t really like change. Change is not easy and change is not always fun, especially in the IT industry. However in this fast moving world one has to learn to adapt and move with the environment or one will get left behind!!
As say to lots of people “IT isn’t easy but IT can be rewarding in lots of ways” today IT departments and personally we spend vast sums of monies supporting or keeping the lights on and continuing to service the applications, solutions or infrastructure. That’s today where we sometimes forget to see whether it actually does add any benefit. Certainly the pressure is always on to do more for less and keep the lights on long but again is that changing the dial or making benefit are we finding ourselves.
As a leader in technology, I attend varying conferences and speak to many people on what I possibly see could be where the future lies in the IT / technology industry and how that IT or Technology could be made to be fun, rewarding and interesting for the end users and the business operators.
However, my belief is that fundamentally all it takes is the simplest things to make a difference for the people around you and that is what makes IT fun and rewarding in my eyes. That difference can be as simple as logging a service desk ticket for someone or writing an application. It doesn’t have to be hard or extravagant – it just has to make the difference. It can also be the difference of getting up in the morning and believing you should and can do something to help someone or something every day.
There is also sometimes cool technology involved. Too often in IT we put too much emphasis on the very large problems whereas it could be the simplest things that are frustrating people and turning your day as an Analysis, Manager, Senior Manager, Director, VP etc. into a night mare. Usually because I think the sprite of want to assist and help or listen is being missed.
Over the past 20 years making a change myself hasn’t been without fault. “If you fall off the horse, get up and get back on it.” This is what enjoying work or having FUN should be all about. Yes we have days, months and years where IT or life isn’t easy but doesn’t everyone? I’ve been really fortunate to have some really great mentors and bosses, my career path has not always been easy, but we shouldn’t look for the easy things as life would be boring if we weren’t challenged.
During my career, I’ve noticed one of the challenges that can really make IT or technology particularly hard is when end users are having issues, even if it is your family at home hounding you because they can’t get on the internet. An example I would like to share to emphasize my point on how focusing on the simple things could bring the FUN back into work.
Problem: A person having a printer issue:
Printer isn’t working for a user (out of toner or offline). The document that is needed to print is for an important meeting. The user rings up the help desk and logs a ticket for the issue. Help desk does not action the ticket as it is seen as low priority. User becomes upset as the repercussions on not having that document printed for the meeting are huge.
Answer: The long term solution to the problem is IT recognising that the business needs to get a printing solution where users can print anywhere in the building.
What’s the best short term answer that can benefit both the user and IT helpdesk: – Actually speaking to the user might get you a total new insight into the issue- The user would have been more than happy with some good old fashion common sense and having someone bring some toner and fix the printer quick smart, or even print the document on another printer until they are able to come by and fix the printer.
However from my experience this IT problem can become a life problem as the common sense solution that is staring you in the face is not the simplest thing to do, getting shouted at is not the nicest thing to absorb.
Just seems a lot of the time we try to achieve, support and develop things for the users and come out failing miserably
Flipping this around and have some common ground is when you get it right. Let’s see what happens when the approach by the IT Helpdesk is different
Example Printer isn’t working for a user (out of toner or offline). The document that is needed to print is for an important meeting. The user rings up the help desk and logs a ticket for the issue
Answer: Helpdesk tech acknowledges the issue as urgent, prints the document and also gets a tech to go and visit the printer and user. User is genuinely happy, you get a smile and positive feedback. Life goes on and the tech thinks what a great day
Users expect benefit from IT through efficient use of IT resources else they think their time is really not being wasted
The user doesn’t always remember nor, does the tech always remember the good parts which leads to IT becoming very much like a super market. Users tend to have very short memories for positive actions and very long memories for mistakes.
The solution as I see it is educating the user and the technical team that IT is not a super market but more of a partner. This is not a change that can happen overnight with the business but the benefits can and are huge. Trying to achieve in IT or life can be an uphill battle but why not try, you might find the business / users respond better and IT might not get such a bad vibe.
One thing for certain we can’t please everyone and some days it’s really hard but for all of us as users and providers but if we don’t try then who can be the ones that lose out, trying is what makes things hard but also rewarding