For the past few years, to keep track of a particular projector, IT staffers at this corporate office have been using a sign-out sheet. But one day, a VP doesn't want to go through the sign-out process. "It's only for an hour," he complains. "I don't see why I have to. What's the point?" IT calmly explains that it's the only way to prevent the projector from disappearing. Besides, says IT, you're the one who came up with the sign-out sheet idea, and it's worked well so far. "Really?" says VP. "Oh. It's a terrific idea, then."
Manufacturing plant manager calls IT to come up from the data centre right away. But why? IT can't think of any active projects the boss would be interested in. "Do you have an engineering degree?" boss asks. Yes, I do, IT replies. Boss: "Well, I have this clock that I had the technicians change a light bulb in. Could you put the hands back on the face for me?"
It doesn't get much uglier than the modern human slave trade which mainly targets women and children. And Microsoft is donating $US1 million to several groups in Asia battling to curb the trade. The company plans to use IT training to give people new skills to find jobs. Microsoft is no stranger to projects involving human trafficking or sexual exploitation. The company has also worked with law enforcement agencies in several nations to develop a software system called CETS, short for Child Exploitation Tracking System, which allows police agencies to share and analyze information about pedophiles and other people who prey on children. Globally, the modern slave trade is huge. Over a million people are forced into unwanted sexual, hard labour, or other work each year, according to HumanTrafficking.org, a Web site dedicated to the issue. Meanwhile, Apple Computer is investigating allegations regarding the mistreatment of workers at a Chinese manufacturing plant which produces iPods. An audit is being undertaken which will include employee working and living conditions at a plant operated by Foxconn after a recent report put the monthly salary of factory workers at $US50. "Apple's supplier code of conduct sets the bar higher than accepted industry standards and we take allegations of non-compliance very seriously," the company said in a statement.
The sorry state of vendor-customer relations was exemplified at a recent business luncheon in Melbourne. During the keynote presentation, the CIO of a large Australian enterprise spoke brilliantly about the value of IT to the business and how more business people should be upskilling themselves in IT to be more cognoscente of the changing nature of technology. While the CIO is clearly on top of his game when it comes to using IT to drive business processes, when asked which vendor supplies the company's core computing infrastructure the CIO replied "I'll get back to you on that one".