Don’t weep for IT

Just by chance, two ostensibly unrelated items arrived here at Datadoodle headquarters on the same day last week.

First, the Department of Here and There received notice of a comment on a post by Information Management editorial director Jim Ericson about his video interview of eLearning Curve director of education Dave Wells. In the interview, Dave described a convergence of forces, a “perfect storm,” that will overwhelm IT shops. Comments ensued, including this one:

… I only hope those who refuse to be intimidated by “IT buzzwords” understand that it’s not going to happen by magic … someone still needs to know what they are doing … and it ain’t glamorous.

Mere hours later came this from the editor on duty at the Foreign Desk. It’s an excerpt of a conversation intercepted in early February between then-ruler of Egypt Hosni Mubarak and an unnamed fellow Middle East dictator presumed to be Muammar Qaddafi:

“I’m tellin’ ya, Mu [Muammar], those kids [the protesters] have no idea what it takes to run a country. Look at ’em down there [in Tahrir Square]. What a mess! They can’t even pick up after themselves and they think the garbage will still be picked up if I take early retirement!”

I assume the IT person who wrote the blog comment would have nothing to do with the former Egyptian dictator, and vice versa. But the two do have things in common.

First, both have a point. They know that running their vast machinery, whether it’s an IT infrastructure or a medium-size country, is a task for which the barbarians at the door are under-qualified.

Second, some among their peers feel sorry for themselves. Oh, poor us, no one appreciates us! It’s a dirty job, etc. You’ll appreciate us when we’re gone!

But the smarter IT people, like the more sophisticated military professionals of the world, will see this “storm” for what it is: merely a transfer to civilian authority. The smart ones don’t want to run the show. Advanced organizations and countries have managed to shed that spooky awe of power that the less advanced project onto things like the military and technology. This is a step up.

IT budgets may decline and come under more scrutiny. Business people will take more responsibility for some traditional IT tasks, and things may get messy for a while. But isn’t that as it should be?

In any case, the Datadoodle editorial council met overtime on this one. As they say, it’s “a breaking story.”

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