The fall of the 'itiot'

I hear far too many stories about non-IT people who simply don't "get it" when it comes to their PCs. What these people don't get is that, whether they like it or not, they are responsible for how they use corporate IT resources, which includes how they accidentally abuse them. These willful people need a name we can identify them by . . . how about "itiots"?

It seems that these itiots are as common today as they ever were and in many organizations the rot starts at the top. How many stories have you heard of CXOs who can't use e-mail?

And how many itiots come to you with IT problems they want solved but don't really want to know or care what's wrong -- they just want it fixed and fixed now! These are the same people who frequently moan "Why can't it do X?" but don't actually want to know the reason or how to get around the problem -- they just want to complain.

Now, handling data and turning it into actionable information -- arguably the one and only goal for all business computing -- is an extraordinarily complex process and demands skilled, intelligent users who know what they're doing and why.

But most of these itiots expect their computers will behave like their cars -- they expect to get in, turn the key and have it go, without them having to think.

Unfortunately computers are not simple, at least not yet. Many of you will argue this is the way computers really should be. I agree. And everyone should have a million dollars and a yacht.

The problem is that wishing doesn't change reality, and no amount of hand waving by industry luminaries promising pen-based machines with voice recognition and intelligent software can change the fact that this vision is decades away. We're stuck with what we have to work with now.

It is inexcusable in this day and age for skilled employees to not know how to drive a computer at a more-proficient level than, say, an eight-year-old.

After all, if their job included running a sophisticated photocopier we could quite reasonably expect them to know how to make reductions and enlargements, use duplexing, stapling and so on.

What I propose is that your organization adopt a Total Computing Initiative -- that it become a business that not only uses IT but actually embodies it from top to bottom. No employee, including the CEO, left behind!

A Total Computing Initiative should ensure that employees understand the what and why of business computing and how to fix common problems. Staffers should have significant insight into how computers work and how computers support and enhance business process.

If their PCs get messed up, it shouldn't be a complete mystery to them. They should have a clue and know how to get their machines fixed. Should they know how to manipulate registry settings? No. Should they know what defragging a disk means? Yes. Should they be capable of writing applications? No. Should they be able to create macros in Word? Yes.

It has occurred to me that it might be possible to assign a PC to each employee and make him responsible for its care and feeding.

The employee's review should reflect his ability to ensure the PC's uptime and ability to do the job assigned to it.

One of the benefits of a Total Computing Initiative would be the organization's network wouldn't create the adversarial situations that so often isolate the IT staff from everyone else.

Better still, problems that affect the organization's infrastructure would be identified quickly because of the increased number of users paying attention. Along with that, more business information would start to flow because everyone would be intimately involved in computers and communications.

So, say goodbye to your itiots and hello to a Total Computing Initiative.

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