I got four words for you

“Three years,” IT Santa mumbled to himself. “Three years I’ve been listening to the grumbles and moans, the gripes and groans. Something’s just gotta change.”

He was hauling himself up the back stairs towards his third-floor office, eschewing the elevator in the hope of avoiding any more entreaties from the high-on-holidays user community. In his years doling out tech largesse, he had heard it all. Faster this, wireless that, more graphical the other. Bigger. Smaller. More colourful. User friendly. Customer centric. Simpler. More complex.

If users redirected even a portion of the time they spent asking for new systems into actually learning to use the stuff they already had, their work would flow faster than the booze at tonight’s office party.

“Bah!” he exclaimed as he reached his floor and flung open the stairwell door, almost whacking a low-level management functionary as he nipped down the hall towards the elevators.

“Whelp!” the functionary exclaimed, swinging away from the door’s arc. Then his face lit up. “Oh, hi, I’ve been looking for you.”

“Uh huh,” IT Santa groaned.

“Can we talk for a few minutes? I’ve got a list I need to run by you,” the functionary said, and then paused to marshal his scant stock of tech terminology. “We’re looking at reimplementing our reporting infrastructure, and I’d like to scope out some new parameters for our GUI. We need to drive ROI.” He smiled, figuring the lingo would score some points.

“Ummm,” IT Santa said, stalling while he tried to figure out what the hell the guy was saying. Giving up, he gestured for the user to follow him.

Hours later, IT Santa sat back and let the chatter wash over him as he surveyed the annual corporate merrymaking. He signalled the waiter for another Bushmills and listened to the sales guy on his right talk about call reports, meeting schedulers, customer logs, targeted marketing, blah, blah, blah. This guy, he knew, couldn’t spell CRM, never mind make the already-installed technology sing. The IT department had purchased and customized an off-the-shelf SFA package a year ago and the expert on his right still called tech support weekly to ask how to add an additional field to his views.

He turned his ear leftward, hoping to engage in conversation about festive lights, skiing vacations or winter strolls. Heck, he would have settled for news of a new leftover-turkey recipe.

No luck. “The problem is the techies don’t support us,” said a raven-haired middle manager, leaning well over towards her confidante. “We tell them what we need and they say it can’t be done within the budget. Well, I ask you, if they can’t do it who can?”

She went on but IT Santa shut out her voice. The middle manager, he reflected, always demanded a 25 per cent cut in IT’s projected cost for any implementation. She believed such ultimatums made her look good during performance-review season.

These price-cut demands also extended to training requirements, and she had won the last battle, a Pyrrhic victory which resulted in a sales database system that fulfilled the pre-agreed return on investment stipulation. Or, it would have, IT Santa sighed to himself. In the end, the critical business professionals who needed the system didn’t know how to use it properly because management had scaled back the training schedule.

Hours later, IT Santa considered the semi-circular whisky-glass wall he had been constructing as a sound barrier between himself and the karaoke stage. “Macho Man” was bad enough in its original incarnation. Filtered through the lips of the firm’s HR director it was excruciating, and his glassware didn’t seem to be helping.

Propelled by the out-of-tune Village People, he finally decided the whining, the complaints and the misunderstandings were too much for him. Climbing labouriously onto his chair and from thence to the table he yelled out to the room, “I got four words for you, and they ain’t ‘Merry Christmas to all.'”

His boots planted between an Irish coffee and a half-empty bottle of Doppel Bock, the suddenly-silent room received the full force of years of pent-up politeness.

“Read the fucking manual!”

Thus vented of his spleen, IT Santa sailed from the room, leaving the partiers to puzzle out his words.