IT gurus not made of cash

Can anyone be an IT guru with enough cash? Is tech success all about deep pockets?

Ask IT managers and the answer is a resounding No, with many claiming it all comes down to experience. And experience certainly isn't a commodity that money can buy.

While readers agree problems can be more readily resolved with a fat budget, it won't guarantee IT guru status.

"If you don't have appropriate experience, you are more likely to end up with an IT noose rather than IT nous," one IT manager, who requested anonymity, quipped.

University of Technology director of infrastructure and operations Peter James said throwing money at technology is a waste of time.

"Take a motor car for instance; if you know nothing about cars and have lots of money you can fix any problem by buying a new car," he said. "But if you want to solve the problem, you take it to a mechanic or, in this case, an IT specialist."

Bridgestone IT support manager Graham Burkin said becoming an IT guru is more about the time spent learning the basic skills, than money. "If you don't have the aptitude then you just don't have it," he said.

"Today, with the advent of the Internet a lot of people can pick up a lot of skills through private research and the cost of an Internet connection. "But an IT guru is someone who has demonstrated problem-solving tenacity.

"You don't need to know everything, but you need to know where to go to find the solution."

Cannondale Australia IT manager Matt Moon agrees experience cannot be bought or sold.

Moon said it is about applied knowledge, but admits he has seen "so-called IT pros" claim the glory of other people's work.

"To be an IT guru you need practical, grassroots experience and the desire to trawl through the uglier side of IT, that is the more mundane tasks in order to really understand things," he said.

Acknowledging that attaining experience is hard work, senior Frost & Sullivan analyst James Turner says experience is something you can buy. "Anyone can buy the experience of a consultant," he said.

Outsourcing deals are another example, but using it for all the wrong reasons is a recipe for trouble.

"In enterprise terms, an IT shop cannot just throw money at technology or business problems to make them go away, they need people with a distinct understanding of both the problems and the solutions," Turner said.

"I do not think there is a strong correlation between money invested and "guru" status - education is the best investment but undergraduates at the moment should be studying part-time while working in the industry to gain the right mix of experience."

Deakin University IT director Richard Tan agrees, claiming it is hard to put a price on the experience that can run IT in an enterprise environment. Tan said the constantly changing nature of technology makes a mockery of the "deep pockets theory".

Throwing money at technology will never work, he said, because IT is never static and innovation is constant.

"With that comes an element of difference in the scales of cost; 30 years ago mainframes cost more than a million dollars and you could have had the best under the sun if you threw a lot of money at it, but 10 years down the track new technology makes a mockery of the old," Tan said.

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