What have you done for me lately?

"What have you done for me lately?" may well be the question for 2002. Be it companies asking workers or workers asking companies, that cry hangs endlessly in the air as revenue-stressed businesses forget to care and workers struggle to remain motivated. For most of us, this means more pressure to increase our workloads.

IT management is under intense pressure to think up new ways to cut costs, increase revenue or improve productivity. There's no time for resting on past laurels when even greater heroics are demanded. In our Business section this week (page 28), we look at three IT leaders who met that challenge. Each delivered solutions that not only addressed current problems but will also provide payoffs down the road.

One is Fran Dramis at BellSouth, who designed a technology transformation road map to help business units define the systems they need to enhance and grow revenue - not just for today, but for years to come.

To view IT heroics on a national scale, check out our Page One update on what happened to the flood of offers of technical assistance in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Our stories look at just a few of the many inspiring actions taken by IT professionals willing to look beyond their personal pain to find ways to contribute. For many, the question became, "What can I do for my community now?" not, "What has my community done for me lately?"

Indeed, hundreds of thousands of IT volunteers signed up, and many were tapped. Because of them, an unbelievable amount of progress was made. But, as our report uncovers, we also need an organizational road map to make sure we're better prepared to harness our nation's collective IT resources the next time disaster strikes.

The problem? A cacophony of well-meaning efforts all targeting the same goal - matching up IT professionals and equipment with companies needing assistance - but with different approaches and levels of expertise. Many offers of assistance went unheeded as a result, and yet the need is more important than ever.

Here are some suggestions of what you can do in the meantime:

- Back the efforts of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, to create a "national emergency technology guard." It would provide a single point of contact and clear chain of command to coordinate the science and technology sectors to prevent and respond to disasters. Services delivered by this agency would include a database of IT professionals willing to help out, complete with equipment and donations they can offer; a reserve of equipment needed in an emergency; clear guidelines for businesses affected; an emergency hot line and Web site; and a large-scale risk management strategy to protect critical infrastructure.

- Contact the New York Software Industry Association, which will devote its annual summit, being held March 8, to help further centralize business relief efforts.

- Register with groups such as Restart Central, an aid program created by several New York City groups that has so far matched more than 850 donations and volunteers and is still working with about 260 businesses, most of which are looking for permanent office space and basic office equipment.

It's time we all looked into the mirror once again and asked, "What have I done lately for my company, my co-workers, my country?"

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