Spellbound by the magic of IT

I don't know too many IT practitioners who consider themselves magicians, but there is the odd occasion when we all find ourselves caught in the spell of technology.

For the uninitiated IT is a babble of acronyms. For others, it is the promise of science fiction becoming fact.

How easy it is to dream our way into computing nirvana.

But such idealism, fuelled by the 'dynamic real-time' catch-phrases created by vendor marketing, can lead us to toil and trouble.

We've learnt from dotcom history the kind of dangers I'm talking about. Oh, how it all went horribly wrong in the twisted Internet Age when we were working in offices with wacky bean bags and bowls of M&Ms. Now that was scary.

It's very easy to recall the great trickery that occurred during this period, but outspoken Ovum analyst Gary Barnett believes IT managers still engage in some 'slight of hand' mastery.

"The dotcom is when we thought we had super powers and used magic words like e-commerce; we thought we could just say the word e-commerce and great things would happen. Post-dotcom, the magic word was TCO; by using this word doors would open. Today the magic word is governance, that's the word we say to make business open their wallets."

His musings are quite entertaining except there is a ring of truth to some of the hysteria that does engulf the world of IT (see full story page 6). Barnett puts the blame for such showmanship squarely on the shoulders of those working in IT.

He says there is a resistance to accept IT as an engineering discipline; practitioners prefer to see it as an art: "If there were two nightclubs, one for artists and one for engineers, most people would want to go to the art club. However, most artists are starving, but engineers get paid."

Like all disciplines there needs to be standards and a level of professionalism to put an end to late-running projects and budget over-runs.

It's fair to say that this move to standards and professionalism is happening and the IT industry in Australia is being formalized. One example is the introduction of the Certified Practicing Information Officer (CIPO) accreditation for CIOs and the announcement this week that business analysts will be certified.

This new accreditation for business analysts, who are a key link between business units and IT when managing a project, was announced by the Australian Business Analyst Association (ABAA) earlier this week.

These efforts should be praised but let's not lose the dreamy magic that accompanies tech innovation.

Our computing aspirations for the future are created now; just avoid those wacky bean bags.

Are you an artist or engineer? Send e-mails to sandra_rossi@idg.com.au

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