IT Employment

Geeks should learn communication, so why aren't suits required to learn technology?


In my job, I have to keep close tabs on the statistics surrounding our site usage. I have access to spreadsheets that show every number I could ever want to know and even some I don't want to know. Most of the time, I can extrapolate the info I need, but sometimes the data presents some problem that I can't get to the bottom of. That's when I contact the creator of these spreadsheets, our resident data guru. The problem is I can neither explain the problem I'm seeing nor can I understand the guru's interpretation of the fix.

For example, if I say the numbers from column B in Spreadsheet A don't correspond to those in Spreadsheet C, I'll get an answer somewhere along these lines:

"Feugiat tincidunt interdico decet nobis accumsan defui vereor minim iusto zelus luptatum. Nutus nulla adsum dolore enim opes PIVOT TABLE multo os, ingenium refoveo, ymo aptent. Commoveo commodo validus incassum velit te facilisi nimis autem erat pertineo, autem genitus, qui."

Or at least that's what it sounds like to me. The only term I can discern is "pivot table." (As far as I can tell, a malfunctioning pivot table is the root of all evil.)

In their book, "The Geek Gap: Why Business and Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other and Why They Need Each Other to Survive," authors Bill Pfleging and Minda Zetlin talk about this same disconnect between office geeks and business people. Those two groups in particular have different skills and personality types, so the divide between them is inevitable.

"The tech worker, the geek, is a problem solver; the businessman, the suit, is a people influencer. The geek likes to fix things, the suit relies more on people skills," said Zetlin. Technology for suits is a "means to an end"-business success-while for geeks (who see themselves as outsiders and artists) it's a "living, breathing thing."

This is one of the reasons you hear so many career professionals advising IT folks to develop good communication skills. The better able you are to interpret what the business folks are asking for and turn it into a useful tool or technology, the better off you'll be.

So should the other side of that equation be the suggestion that business people hone up on their technical skills? Well, you certainly don't hear that as much. Wonder why that is?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

111 comments
vincent.fong
vincent.fong

Just like at school, the whole class is dumbed down so the weaker or less bright student can catch-up, at work the workplace is dumbed down so that the less geeky can catch-up to the techno speak. It's a whole lot easier to make the techno geek communicate better than it is to have non-techno suits geek up.

Dr. John
Dr. John

Even worse is the position I currently find myself in, in which the HMFIC was the IT guy, way back when the entire system consisted of seven Win95 workstations and a printer. Now, with seven servers, dozens of printers, scanners and faxes, and over 200 workstations and point of sales units, plus several OS/NOS revisions later, he still thinks he has a clue. Which means I find myself trying to make him understand why Fiber and CAT5 are superior to coax, and wireless has limited range, and.... *sigh*

hmlnkfam
hmlnkfam

I have no idea where y'all work, but in state government there are very few "suits" that AREN'T technical. DO MORE WITH LESS is the government mantra. The only way to do that is to make sure that in any IT shop the managers and supervisors are just as technical as the rest of the staff. Every interview I've been to in the last year has had the requirement that a middle manager and some upper managers must spend 20 - 30% of their time monitoring the network , designing a database, coding a web application,etc. What we've ended up with are over stressed, under appreciated, and overworked managers who take it out on their staff... people person's they are NOT. Even if they were they aren't anymore... no time... there's simply no time. The IT world is barking mad I tell ya! Barking crazy mad and FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFast! :o)

gpellett
gpellett

Because the suits are in control. They employ geeks, and assume that geeks will bow to their wishes in exchange for a job. I'm not saying that they're right to do that, but you have to bow to those in power. Smart suits understand the importance of good happy geeks, but their priorities are elsewhere. Meanwhile, why does Tech Republic keep posting these articles that are guarranteed to generate an us vs. them attitude? This site has many more geek subscribers than suit subscribers, so is it any surprise that most of the comments are suit bashing? Wouldn't Tech Republic serve us all better if it posted articles that helped us get along (or at least tolerate each other) better?

olddognewtricks
olddognewtricks

Put (over)simply, we invented the tech to facilitate communication. Humanity NEEDS communication, we don't NEED tech.

gary.hewett
gary.hewett

Any organization (like any organism) REQUIRES separate, distinctly different and even unique parts in order to function properly. Would you cut off a foot because it is not good at writing? I sense a lot of hostility in the replies here being established along the them and us lines with suit bashing geeks and geeks bashing suits. One thing that I have learnt (as both president of my company AND a major league self-proclaimed geek) is to first understand HOW someone looks at the world. Management types (the suits as you call them) MUST deal with EVERYTHING regardless of skill levels, education or resources. Technical types (the geeks in this discussion) MUST complete something 100% else it is viewed as a waste of time. This sets up both camps in diametric opposition to each other from the get go. When faced with 10 problems and only 80% of the resources required a management type will accomplish 80% of each task and smile proudly. A technical person however will rage that an 80% solution is as useful as a 0% one and he/she will accomplish 8 tasks completely and never even start 2 of them and also smile proudly. What is amusing is that BOTH approaches work - the really successful people inherently know WHEN to use which approach and can jump between either at will. So all of you step back and think about your role in the larger picture and see how everything you contribute helps the organization survive. And yes communication at any and every level is always a very important skill. Perhaps even more important is moving between communication levels as required for any given situation or audience and try to always make sure that the listener hears what it is you are really trying to say. Can't we all just get along?

Snak
Snak

I have learned that one should not trust anyone who goes to work in a suit. They're either out to take money off you, or screw you over in some other way. My immediate reaction to this (being a self-confessed geek but, surprisingly, with good social skills - I even teach) was that anyone who chooses a career where the first thing you do each morning is put a noose around your neck, probably does not have the brain required to 'do' tech. Anyone can sell stuff. I think most geeks, having a grasp of logic, should be able to convince anyone that a want is a need (turning wants into needs is how you sell stuff to people who weren't even sure they wanted one in the first place) by the use of some carefully placed logic. I seriously doubt a suit would be able to convince a computer to do something useful by plying it with vending-machine coffee and a false smile. I have always tried to 'empower' my users by showing them how I fix things; the idea being that I should not need to fix that particular problem with that particular user on that particular machine again. It works for secretaries, researchers, even some doctors, but never suits. I get sick of turning up to press the 'on' button on a suit's printer again and again. Hence, I come to the conclusion that geeks *could* sell, if they really wanted to, and suits are pretty damn lucky they live in THIS age when there are soft careers around.

Absolutely
Absolutely

"You don't know how to do your job," even if it's true. There's no converse taboo against telling abnormally competent people "You don't work (or play, as the case may be) well with others," or "You're not a 'team player'," even when it is not true. Zetlin's book probably sells well to suits. [i]The tech worker, the geek, is a problem solver; the businessman, the suit, is a people influencer. The geek likes to fix things, the suit relies [b]more on[/b] people skills,? said Zetlin. Technology for suits is a means to an end?-business success-while for geeks (who see themselves as outsiders and artists) it's a living, breathing thing.[/i] What a load of crap. Competent computer professionals know full well that the computer is a means to an end. The reason competent people are competent is that we understand what Francis Bacon meant when he said that "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." The difference is intellectual self-discipline, not that fairy tale Zetlin wrote. Suits shouldn't be forced to learn technology. They should be forced to learn to smile while asking "Would you like any help getting your baggage out of the overhead compartment, sir?" [Fast food preparation should be automated.]

bwechner
bwechner

The geeks should rejoice. More power to them. Communication skills are useful in a much broader social context than professionally and intrinsically involve the geek and someone else (that's what communication is after all). Technical skills that the suits are disinclined to pick up are not as widely useful, or fundamentally practical and can be delegated to someone in tuto (here geek, fix this this will ya?) so they can get away with not learning it. I'm a geek who believes wholeheartedly that this bias is fundamentally O.K. and understandable and empowers geeks who can and should learn social and communications skills at the expense of the suits who don't. It's an opportunity and one that knocks with force because let's face it communication skills are universally useful, from talk with clients to talk with you own kids or parents or friends ... technical skills can be bought (and the work delegated), communication is hard to delegate (hey suit, wanna talk to mum for me I can't seem to get the message across?).

vincent.fong
vincent.fong

A very simple answer: There will always be plenty of other geeks around to the same job - that's why geeks are always picked on. If there were less geeks around and ties have to learn the tech to get on with the day, they'd know what it's like to be told to learn to communicate. By the way, I'm just exactly in this situation at the moment - geek has to communicate - geek has to be friendly - geek must not be honest and direct as that can hurt. Unfortunate, with all this new-age stuff, it appears to this geek that some of this new-age touchy-feely, niceties are a put-on (smiling faces with daggers in hand ready to stab). If this is the case it's pretty deceitful and since companies are asking more of us to behave this way against our natural contitution to be direct and honest, aren't they asking us to be deceitful. And since doing so, they condone deceitfulness in the company what does this say about the company in the eyes of its customers - one deceitful company!

bkinsey
bkinsey

While all IT people like to complain about "suits" (and the fact that we use labels says something in itself), the article sets up something of a false dichotomy. . . Communication is not a "suit" skill, or a business skill; it's a personal skill. Everybody, ideally, should know how to communicate, in at least basic terms, with people who don't share their particular specialist niche. Communication is also not all that a line or business manager or executive has to do in their position, so saying a tech should know communication isn't saying the tech should know the manager/executive's job. On the other hand, "technology" is a very broad term. Taken at one level, "suits should have to know technology" means a CIO or production manager should have to know everything I do - how to program a router, troubleshoot a COBOL app, architect a network, and so on, which is ridiculous. What it probably should mean is that any non-IT person, management included, should really know how to use the technology inherent in their job effectively, as a user, not a technician. If it breaks, call the help desk; but if it isn't doing what you think it should do because you don't know what it does, you need training. Secondly, if IT isn't the business (sometimes it is, obviously), then its role is to support the business functions that make up whatever the business is. That can mean providing an infrastructure for data sharing and communication, but it can also mean automating a production process, or streamlining a financial process. And that points up the "other" level of communication and understanding of technology that goes beyond the basic user/help desk relationship. Somebody has to understand the business processes, how technology can address those, and maybe improve them. In my experience, that's where IT needs not just communication skills, but at least a basic understanding of the business processes, and where management needs not just user-level understanding of IT, but at least a basic understanding of what larger-scale software and systems can and can't do.

SnoopDougEDoug
SnoopDougEDoug

Business is all about maximizing your profit. Until IT can convince the suits that is is a profit center and not a cost center, IT will never be seen other than a tool. Discussion w/suits must be filtered through their lens (money). Want new servers? Why? Will it save me money or make me more money? How? And don't give me some techno-babble like last time.

MikeGall
MikeGall

Because the suits are higher paid and don't want to? I work for a cancer centre, the average doctor is in his fifties, and obviously didn't grow up with computers. They know how to sign off a paper chart already, and get frustrated if a button on a UI moves. They switch from computers are great, why can't it do this (ex. keep 130TB of data accessible with really quick access times (less than 2 secs for 100 MB files)? The funny thing is the suits will ask questions, and use deep probing questions like they'd do in a sales negotiation, but once you start explaining why their eyes glaze over and in general they don't like the answer (why can't you one guy replace all 100 PC's over the weekend by yourself? Why won't you help me pick out an external storage drive so I can store more personal movies on my corporate laptop? etc.) In my environment, the doctor's get what they want period. It can be a stupid idea, but they have the power to refuse good change, because they get paid 10 times more than anyone else, and are in short supply, they pretty much only have to suggest they enjoyed working at another hospital and they'll have senior management, and HR all over them to see how they can help. Anyways enough of my rant, why don't suits learn tech? Because there is the common perception, partly correct, partly generated by the geeks for pride/job security, that technology is complicated and requires lots of experience to learn. Professionals simply don't have time to learn your job and their too.

BrokenEagle
BrokenEagle

The problem is non-Geeks are not required to learn tools that are essential for their jobs, because the Geek will fix it. If an employee needs spreadsheets to do their job effectively, they should be given training and be expected to be fluent in spreadsheets.

SysAdminII
SysAdminII

I think the geeks realize that once a necktie is strapped onto the suits he is officially braindead at that point and there is no hope of reviving him, so the geek has to stoop the the suits level of BS.

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

It all comes down to roles and responsibilities. Yes, ideally, Suits would know tech, and geeks would know suit-stuff. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Here's how I see it for the suits: Their primary responsibility is knowing the business, and then effectively communicating those needs to the tech staff...hopefully with some idea as to what tech tool or concept needs to be implemented. Once that need has been satisfied, it is the suits responsibility to evaluate what has been provided, and to go back to the tech staff with the required mods. While the suits don't necessarily need to "know tech," they do need to know what tech can do, and what resources tech requires (from business and project planning perspective). Now for the geeks: It's incumbent upon us as geeks to be able to translate the business needs communicated by the suits into an IT project plan, and then to implement that plan. It's our job to know the tech, find the tech, or build the tech that meets the business needs as presented. Unfortunately, it's also our responsibility to try to see beyond the current business needs, and to plan for future capacity and requirements...to build scalable plans and solutions. It's also our jobs to keep the suits informed as to what we're doing, and what is happening with tech (trends, standards, capabilities, etc.). This last one is important because it sets expectations for the suits as to what tech can actually accomplish, and what the requirements will be. Very circular, huh? The long and short of it is this: Business needs to know the business requirements, communicate those requirements, and understand the capabilities and potential for technology. IT needs to translate the business needs, build a solutions, communicate that solution back to the suits, and communicate tech capabilities to the suits to build a reasonable set of expectations for current and future work.

Tell It Like I See It
Tell It Like I See It

Do I think that suits should learn technology? Yes. The article mentions that for a tech person, the technology is a living, breathing thing. To the suit, it is a means to an end. It also states that the suit makes their living by influencing people. Now, here is the part I don't understand about the suits. They refuse to have anything to do with technology at all -- they simply refuse to learn it. The suits then complain that tech people can't understand them (and vice versa) and demand that the tech people need to change. Well, it seems obvious to me that technology is important to these tech people. So, it seems obvious to me that perhaps the best way to INFLUENCE the tech people is to learn at least a minimum amount of tech. No, you may not need enough knowledge to do their jobs, but enough to at least get a measure of their respect; from there you can work on the influence. If the suits are all about influencing people, then they should know one way to gain influence is to gain credibility. You can gain credibility by appearing knowledgeable about something important to the person you wish to influence. So, to influence techs, appear knowledgeable about technology. Some may argue that tech people should learn "business" so they can influence the suits. You're right. In that situation, the same rules apply to the techs who want to influence suits. The problem is that for probably 75% or more of the interactions between the techs and the suits it is the suit who needs to do the influencing and can't make it happen.

critch
critch

Sorry, but there are huge differences between being a TechExpert and: - Not Using Common Sense - Not being Computer literate at the 7th grade level - Being to lazy to Read any error message & Think about what it says There is much of my IT job that I "dumb down" to explain it, but for those who Want to Understand, I will explain it at a level they can understand. The worst ones ( and generically these are sales people) have the deer in the headlights look when asked about error messages, what they actually did, etc. Typically: I GOTTA HAVE IT NOW.. Fine... Business is Business guess I'm just prejudiced against Lazy & Stupid by Their own Desire people....

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

... far superior to Excel worksheets when you need to manage numbers and data tables.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

no one gets good at tangoing by them self and it's management who set up the environment in which us techs eke out survival.

Snak
Snak

... this is of course the correct answer. I have to admit my earlier reply to this topic was a little tongue-in-cheek and yes, designed to have a 'poke' at the 'suits'. But you are 100% right, Gary. Of course we all work for the same team; of course we all do different jobs and hopefully, we are all doing the job to which we're best...er...suited. Now if we could just transfer this 'team' understanding to politicians......

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

I must say I agree wholeheartedly with you here. Why is it that tech staff have such a resistance to learning what I would call "normal life skills" such as communicating with people, delivering messages in a diplomatic way etc? To pick up on someone else's point, delivering a message in a particular manner to ensure you get the required result is not being deceitful, it's thinking through the consequences of how you deliver a message and managing/controlling a situation to your advantage to get what you want. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

[i]Communication is not a "suit" skill, or a business skill; it's a personal skill. [b]Everybody, ideally, should know how to communicate, in at least basic terms, with people who don't share their particular specialist niche [/b]. Communication is also not all that a line or business manager or executive has to do in their position, so saying a tech should know communication isn't saying the tech should know the manager/executive's job.[/i] Your membership of any technical forum is hereby revoked. Your crime? Practical and sensible advice. :)

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

Why don't all you people that think that IT is nothing but a liability for the company simply abolish your IT departments? No one is forcing you to have one. You can get rid of all your IT personnel and equipment and operate without it. And it isn't going to hurt me in the least because if all the IT jobs disappear, guess what? I know how to do a few other things (unlike most suits) so I'll still be able to make a living.

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

Why don't all you people that think that IT is nothing but a liability for the company simply abolish your IT departments? No one is forcing you to have one. You can get rid of all your IT personnel and equipment and operate without it. And it isn't going to hurt me in the least because if all the IT jobs disappear, guess what? I know how to do a few other things (unlike most suits) so I'll still be able to make a living.

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

Why don't all you people that think that IT is nothing but a liability for the company simply abolish your IT departments? No one is forcing you to have one. You can get rid of all your IT personnel and equipment and operate without it. And it isn't going to hurt me in the least because if all the IT jobs disappear, guess what? I know how to do a few other things (unlike most suits) so I'll still be able to make a living.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You either know the bottom line or you are a clueless geek. Now for my next trick I'll prove that refactoring will save you money in the long run. Cashflow ??? The big problem is not business speak, it's corporate myopia.. I made the case, they postponed it 'til next year, when some financial doings would release the cash to invest. Waht do you call a year's worth of refactoring, a rewrite. Now make a case for that, f'ed aren't we.

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

Nail. Head. We?ve got it exactly!! After all, any manager works to a cost benefit analysis ? what will it cost and what is the ROI? If ROI is not beneficial, what?s the point? Tech for tech?s sake is worthless within a business ? unless it generates money, it is nothing more than a fixed cost that eats into overall profitability. And at the end of the day people go into business and launch companies to do one core activity ? make money.

Tell It Like I See It
Tell It Like I See It

Actually, I've heard of several "professional" type people who actually made databases in Access or something similar. This includes a lawyer, journalist (or writer, can't remember) and a small-town doctor. A long time ago, I personally knew one chiropractor who built his own patient / diagnosis tracking system using Clipper (and there I go dating myself...). So I know some of them realize that technology can help them. This is one of the reasons I personally differentiate between "professional" and "suit".

jedmundson
jedmundson

I've worked in stock brokerage as desktop support, in a hospital as the IT Manager, as a Data Processing instructor, and, now, in an chemical plant as Network and Database Administrator. I've worked with managers, vice presidents, and regular factory workers who have a good knowledge of the SQL SELECT statement and other skills that still amaze me. The most common situation I've run into is, what is commonly stated in the South, "What button do I mash to make it work?" They refuse to learn the technology behind the work at hand. You have to deal with the lowest common denominator of knowledge and skill and to be pleasantly surprised by those who do have some knowledge.

sheridan
sheridan

The real reason suits don't learn IT is because IT people like to think they have an edge if the boss doen't understand what they are going on about. I'm an MD of a ?100m company and I know my IT. I can maintain servers, set up email systems, web sites, take PC's apart, and fix them. Indeed far better than my Pc network and help desk staff. It is a hobby of mine. And believe you me, the IT staff HATE it!!! What's more if they don't improve their skills they are the one who will be looking for new jobs. Just why are so many IT people wedded to mainframes still, when a simple PC can do the same task for many at a fraction of the price. Just a hint to make sum balance the equation

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

I think this response illustrates exactly why managers (often myself included I must admit) have difficulty with tech staff. The fact that they look upon themselves as some kind of intellectually superior beings put upon by robot masters hardly helps maintain a good 2 way communication does it? So often I see IT guys that I am interviewing ? to help them into work ? behaving in a ?superior? way towards me and my staff, making sneering comments etc. Yes guys, you possibly have more letters after your names than we do, but on no account does it make you ?better? or ?smarter?. Intelligence comes in many forms and it would be wrong to view one as better than the other. After all, just as I could not set up a network or code an application, many tech guys could not aggressively pursue, control and win multimillion pound contracts. Different strokes for different folks I guess. And I suppose at the end of it, it does boil down to all of us having a bit more understanding and respect of each others? individual skillsets?..

MikeGall
MikeGall

There is ignorant people in any field, but so many suits, or end users don't listen. They ask you what caused it, and you explain it to them, and tell them if it happens again write down the error message, or leave the dialog box open so you can see whats happening. Well guess what, next time it happens what do they do? Open up new programs close, old ones, get rid of the dialog box, and can't remember what they were doing when the problem occurred. If I have to understand your business processes so that I can try to find solutions for you, you can at least follow simple instructions, I'm not asking them to do anything that is above a 5th graders education, "if you see then write it down", "if you get a low memory message, stop running 10 simultaneous apps". The logic behind the request is simple, but I'm not even asking them to understand why, just do it, sort of they aren't expecting me to know why this form is really important to them, they just what it recovered. I'm fine with people relying on my expertise, just listen to my "diagnosis and prescription" as I do yours.

MikeGall
MikeGall

There is ignorant people in any field, but so many suits, or end users don't listen. They ask you what caused it, and you explain it to them, and tell them if it happens again write down the error message, or leave the dialog box open so you can see whats happening. Well guess what, next time it happens what do they do? Open up new programs close, old ones, get rid of the dialog box, and can't remember what they were doing when the problem occurred. If I have to understand your business processes so that I can try to find solutions for you, you can at least follow simple instructions, I'm not asking them to do anything that is above a 5th graders education, "if you see then write it down", "if you get a low memory message, stop running 10 simultaneous apps". The logic behind the request is simple, but I'm not even asking them to understand why, just do it, sort of they aren't expecting me to know why this form is really important to them, they just what it recovered. I'm fine with people relying on my expertise, just listen to my "diagnosis and prescription" as I do yours.

SnoopDougEDoug
SnoopDougEDoug

"Now I've told you that your are stupid and lazy. Why are you complaining to your boss?" I suspect you have never worked sales. You have no idea what it is like to work on commission do you? Time is money. Listening to some geek drone on in Ferengi, er geek-speak, is costing me money. This has nothing to do with being lazy or stupid, but maximizing your time. Let's go to the auto analogy. My car is making a horrible squeal when I brake. I do not need to hear some long-winded blathering from my mechanic about harmonics, etc. Tell me two things--is it fixable? How much? And maybe when you can fix it. I appreciate that you are annoyed that most people do not keep a mental note on their keystroke-by-keystroke actions that led to an error. Most people do not work that way. I try to look at it as a puzzle when my wife pipes up with a computer issue. And I sure as h*ll do not want to alienate her with my vast knowledge of quantum physics!

Dr. John
Dr. John

And, told 'em to keep the silly T-shirt. Even more annoying is when you're working at or with a non-profit, and the HMFIC hobnobs with captains of industry regularly. The NPO has something between no budget and a nothing budget for IT, but the HMFIC thinks you should be able to do all the things that the captains of industry, with their million(s of) dollar(s) IT dept budgets, say their guys can do.

alaniane
alaniane

a resistance on both ends. As a developer, I have clients that expect me to know every acronym in their business. For example an accounting person will use AP and AR when talking to me about spec. They consider AP and AR to be common language; however, it's technical jargon. Execs talk about ROI and they consider it basic communication. When has return on investment been part of the common language; it's technical jargon for the business world. I agree that basic communication skills are essential; however, too often people equate basic communication skills with speaking in their technical jargon. So, the problem is not just related to IT, but it is across the board.

alaniane
alaniane

that much useless tech is brought into the business because management does not understand technology sufficiently. An example: a manager will see some gadget or software and then come up with an idea of how the company needs that software or gadget. Because he does not understand the complexities involved with integrating that gadget or software into the existing infrastructure, he then forces his proposal on the business. Later, when it becomes obvious that the new gadget will not integrate with the current system, he concludes that IT is responsible. If the manager had a better grasp of technology or at least knew how important technology is to enabling his business, he could have avoided the unnecessary costs. He would have known to have investigated possible conflicts that would occur by implementing the gadget or software. He may not have had a full grasp on what conflicts would occur, but he would have known to ask his IT department to investigate potential conflicts.

alaniane
alaniane

intended for non-tech types. However, I do agree with the suits when they say that it is unnecessary for them to know the inner-workings of a program. They should learn the basics; however, it's counter productive to expect someone to learn all the intricacies of a program and then expect them to concentrate on doing their jobs.

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

If you have/had the time and ability to become a doctor, maintain your medical knowledge, practice medicine and become so adept at IT, why can't other professionals/suits at least learn basic computer skills? Are you some kind of super-human? Or could it be that others are just too damn lazy?

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

Good call! I've often wondered if the huge amount of geek speak is a big conspiracy to make themselves feel indispensible. After all, imagine how the IT employment market would be decimated if Haynes started bringing out those fantastic self-fix manuals like they do for cars and home improvement??

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You was doing well there until you brought up mainframes. If you need the power a PC is not going to cut it, a blade rack maybe. Mainframe will probably work out cheaper though.

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

Listening to all this talk about how tough it is to be in sales makes me wonder why anyone chooses that line of work in the first place. Because I know, of course, that they have other skills or are capable of learning them. Aren't they?

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

Exactly - this is all the clarification why IT guys get it in the neck more from sales guys than anyone else. Every minute not hustling is a minute not earning. Sales is one of the most insecure roles you can have, targets are constantly checked, rechecked and moved, what you do RIGHT NOW affects what you take home at the end of the month, so damn right, you want things quickly....

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

... they may try to escape. When I did actually earn a quid in the pointy end of IT, all the people used to say: Farking sales. They get far too much money. They get fast new cars. They have lunches at expensive restaurants. They get overseas trips. They work when they want. They get paid to play golf. They get free tickets to the best games. Walk around like they are kings. When they complain we have to jump to attention. Farking sales people. My immediate questions was: how do I get to be one of them? :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I get enough blank stairs when I talk about anything computer related. I don't want to even think about trying to explain to a/the HMFIC the benefits of not getting stuck on a single brand name that the Captains keep giving him. "Sure we can look into doing that. We can use platoform Blah with program Blah and probably do all those really great things but you'll have to give me a chance to look into it first." 'But, they are using BrandX integrated-buzword-solution version W. Can't you get us that somehow?' Eesh.. I can only sympithise and hope I myself manage to avoid that discussion for a long time.

Snak
Snak

'Suits' should NOT learn (even the basics of) SQL. You know what would happen if they did: "I know how to do this stuff, why should I call IT? It's just (tongue out of side of mouth)SELECT .... er....Star - that means everything... FROM .... Employees UPDATE Salary TO (now, what did he say ... oh yes) Salary X 1.02 WHERE Sex IS Male BUT Salary X 1.01 WHERE Perfomance IS Below Average. Enter. Hmm, whats a syntax error? Er... IT!!!!" No Suits should be made aware of the fact that whilst an employee's age, date of birth, IR number and address are all the same (that is, discrete bits of INFORMATION) to him; to a programmer these are NOT the same. Suits should be made aware that logic dictates database interactions and that a specifically created language is used to apply logic to the data to obtain results or produce alterations. They could perhaps be taught the basics of the ideology behind database theory and practice in order to engender a respect for the skills of the IT Team and an appreciation of the fact that they should be doing THEIR job, not yours. I imagine everyone in this forum has had to deal with the results of some enthusiastic 'Have a go Henry' thinking 'I'll not bother IT' or 'I know this, I've been on a course - OK it wasn't programming but I can remember something about ... what was it? Oh yes, GOTO' By all means let them change their printer cartridges, but please God no, do not let them tinker with my code.

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]I've often wondered if the huge amount of geek speak is a big conspiracy to make themselves feel indispensible.[/i] That is very amusing, because technically knowledgeable people, with or without what you call "social skills", "soft skills" or "people skills", [b]know[/b] that legalese, CPA jargon, and Maslow's hierarchy of nothing, just to name a few, are efforts to describe the unnecessary in the terms of the indispensable. You've only "wondered" if the converse is true, and you've wondered it as a "conspiracy". That tells you who is really the source of productivity, and who is dead weight.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Versions of 'Haynes' are all over the place. We read them, the rest of you didn't ! Not our fault is it? Try IT for Dummies.

NetMan1958
NetMan1958

Actually there are millions of IT self-fix manuals available. I've learned far more from them than I did in school. The crux of the problem is that people like you won't read them or if you do try to read them you can't understand the "geek speak". On the other hand, I have and do read books on other subjects such as business, accounting, etc. and understand them.

alaniane
alaniane

I can tell you from experience, that unless you are very small outfit, you don't want to dispense with your IT staff. It is not that easy to maintain a network and if the thing crashes, you are going to need experience to get the thing up and running again. The company I work for learned this the hard way. When they lost their network admin they outsourced the job. There was a problem with the backup system and the mail server, so they decided to turn off the backup system. Six months later the main server crashed and the entire disk storage system was corrupted. It took a whole week to get the network back up and running. The only backups of the data were over 6 months old. All of the special customizations had to be re-designed from the beginning. If they had not had the help of the company they outsourced to they would probably being using carrier pigeons to communicate. I know as a developer that bringing that network back up is beyond my expertise and I work in IT (I am a programmer not a network admin).

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

One word answer: Money Only a certain personality type will survive in a sales environment, they need to be very strong mentally, exceptionally focussed and very fast paced. Hence the fact of being exceptionally demanding to IT and other "service" departments including billing, despatch etc.

alaniane
alaniane

important for people who work in sales to familiarize themselves with the technology they use. They don't have to know all the details; however, if you want to get the machine up and running quicker then you better be alert to the warning signs. To use the analogy of broken down car, maybe all you want to know is how much it will cost to fix it; however, letting the mechanic know that oil pressure light came on before the thing konked out will allow him to find the problem quicker. If the program crashes, knowing what the error message is allows IT to diagnose the problem quicker. In Windows a simple Print Screen and paste to paint will save the error message (learning at least that much will help). Unix and Mac systems have similar functionality. No one is going to expect you to know that ax means 16 bit accumulator register and eax means 32 bit accumulator register and that sp means stack pointer.

andy.nelson
andy.nelson

But actually look at their money and how it comes in, you'll suddenly see another picture... Their basic is low, the high earnings are commission from each deal done. They have low job security and targets that constantly move. So yeah, they are earning good money and can be demanding, but think of it this way - they effectively have all the risk of self employment but few of the perks....

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