Friday, May 23, 2003

I matter, but what about T?

ZDNet News had an article asking: IT doesn't matter?

The basic premise was that IT has been regulated to the background of most companies instead of the front lines. I say, "Yea and?" IT is not the answer to every problem a company has. It can help solve problems and make things run smoother, but it cannot MAKE a company with no business plan. The "Dot Com Bust" proved that basic business truth. Why people thought tech would be able to sustain a company all by itself is a difficult question to answer. I know I was a bit guilty of that thinking myself. There are a lot of exciting and amazing tech tools out there. It's easy to get overwhelmed in the hype. The tech boom was proof of that. Notice how "killer-app" isn't used as often these days.

The problem is that business, especially smaller companies, do not move at the same speed as technology. These great technologies stress and strain company cultures. It takes time for certain technologies to be accepted by an entire company.

You cannot just throw technology at a problem and expect it to work. The "boom" was doing just that. I and my company was just as guilty. I've learned from my mistakes and have begun to learn how to make the technology we have NOW work better and more efficiently. Actually get the return on investment that we expected.

Riding the upgrade train is not always necessary. I spent a hour with my Microsoft rep and now we'll be buying our software in a very different way. Buying as little from Microsoft as legally possible. This goes for any other software company for that matter.

What will VoIP offer my company over a traditional phone system? Nada. The system would be obsolete and in need of replacement before it's investment had be reaped.

Some companies can do well with throwing tech at certain issues. LCDs use less energy than CRTs, so a company in California where energy has been an issue may save money in the long run buying the more expensive (up-front) LCDs. However my company has its electric bill built into our lease, so saving a few kilowatts makes no difference to the bottom line, thus the power savings cannot be factored into the arguement. Though perhaps eye strain could be.

The point of this ramble is that IT is NOT dead, it is simply evolving into more than just a technology driven department. There is accounting and HR issues that have to be considered. IT should be making the company run better, more efficiently and within the bounds of the company culture. As many of you may know, just because it seems like a good idea doesn't always mean it will. If you force the users too far from their normal work flow to accommodate a new tech tool, they'll quickly ignore it and you've wasted your time and budget. Those were the days of the tech "boom". Those days are over.

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