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IT is not a place full of geeks and propeller heads, it’s a place full of best friends and partners.

What’s next? A new regime

Enough with Y2K already: there’s work to be done now that the century has turned, and job one has got to be lining up shoulder to shoulder with the people who really should be our business partners and best friends.

Clearly, there’s work to be done on both sides. Let’s start by burying a couple of misconceptions once and for all. For starters, we’re not geeks and propeller heads, and they’re not users – users die in back alleys with dirty needles in their arms.

If we can’t get past the simple and fundamental prejudices these labels suggest, I’m sure that some CEO equivalent of General Stormin’ Norman Schwartzkoff is out there ready to kick our collective backsides around until we prove that we can work together the way we can and should.

Or maybe it’s not as bad as all that – maybe it’s just a matter of easing ourselves into improved relationships by answering some questions about the role of IT people and the organizations with which we work.

As the Lord High Executioner said in the Mikado, “I have a little list.”

Why is it that organizations who hire IT professionals for their experience and knowledge steadfastly refuse to believe any estimates that these same IT people provide? “It can’t possibly cost that much!” they’ll say. “It can’t possibly take that long! You IT guys are always padding your estimates.” If they really think so, why did they ask in the first place?

Why is it that we in IT don’t stand by our guns when we provide estimates? If we really know that a job will take at least X months and Y dollars (and even at that, we tend to be an overly optimistic lot), why do we cave in under pressure and say that yes, in fact, we were just kidding, and we’ll deliver it both faster and cheaper than our original estimate? Is it because we really were padding in the first place or because we’re cowards in the second place? Are we afraid that they won’t love us anymore? Are we afraid that they’ll find someone else to do it? If it really can’t be done faster or for less, why not let somebody else fail instead of us?

Why is it that some companies continue to moan and complain about the cost and efficacy of IT while at the same time they’re falling all over themselves to be seen in the broader business community as dot-com organizations who truly embrace the wired world? Don’t they know they can’t have it both ways?

If they really believe they need IT to survive (and they do), they’d better be ready to bring IT to the table early and as equals – they’ve got to understand that IT is not a place full of geeks and propeller heads, it’s a place full of the best friends and partners they could possibly get.

Why is it when you ask someone in IT what they do for a living, they tend to answer in terms of technology instead of the strategic intent of their organization? Next time you’re out for dinner with a large group, ask everyone at the table what they do. You’ll probably get “I work for TransCanada Pipelines” or “I work for Air Canada” or “I work for the Defense Department” – a description of what they do in the context of who employs them. Ask an IT person the same question and you’ll probably hear “I’m a systems analyst” or “I’m a DBA” or “I’m a network administrator.” Do we really believe that the technologies we work with are as important as the organizations we work for?

(This one is just a pet peeve): Why is it that my microwave oven spells out “Enjoy your meal” whenever it finishes cooking whatever it is I shoved in it – did some marketing genius really think this was a cool application of information technology?

Why is it that when my portable makes a connection to the network, it makes a whole (really annoying) bunch of Star Trek phaser type sounds – didn’t the tech support guy who set this up in the first place think that I wouldn’t really rather hear a bit of Mozart or Chet Baker, or silence for that matter? Really guys, the stereotypes are hard enough to duck without this kind of stuff in the eyes and ears of our clients every day.

Happy New Year.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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