Leadership

Sanity check: Will IT 2.0 eliminate the geeks or spawn a new breed?

The IT profession will change significantly over the next decade in order to keep up with the swift advance of the technology industry. There are four factors driving these changes. IT will split into two separate career tracks.

The IT profession will change significantly over the next decade in order to keep up with the swift advance of the technology industry. There are four factors driving these changes. IT will split into two separate career tracks.

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The world of technology is racing at a pace so fast that it's in a continual state of transformation. So how could the professionals who manage that technology not expect to be caught in the vortex of this rapid and perpetual change?

As bandwidth dramatically increases and mobilizes, computing power becomes more efficient and less expensive, and applications move to an always-on and always-available model, the IT profession itself will be dramatically altered to meet the changing requirements of businesses.

Here come the changes

In its recent article IT 2.0: How Changing Technology is Having Big Impacts on Business, the ReadWriteWeb stated:

"Today, there still may be plenty of businesses employing 'classic geeks' in their I.T. Department, but that's about to change. Don't misunderstand - the world will always need a good engineer, but the I.T. leaders of tomorrow - the ones guiding the business in the use of their computer resources, the ones working with the CEOs to execute the vision and direction via information technology - they will no longer be what we think of as the classic 'computer geek.' You know the type - the stereotypical introvert, who's more comfortable behind the glow of computer screen than interacting with the rest of the human race. The one who likes to speak in acronyms that only he or she understands. The ones who know how to do everything from a command prompt. These folks will be a dying breed...at least around the office.

Instead, tomorrow's computer 'geek' will be a true member of the business team as opposed to the mysterious man behind the curtain who you only notice when something goes wrong. So what does the 'new geek' need to know to run tomorrow's I.T. Department? An entirely new skill set, as it turns out."

In terms of the factors involved in these changes, ReadWriteWeb cited these four:

  • Enteprise 2.0 - Collaboration among employees and teams using tools such as SharePoint, Wikis, blogs, and RSS
  • Cloud services - A lot of servers will move from the corporate data center to the cloud, hosted by Microsoft, Google, and Amazon
  • The mobile workforce - Mobile office work will spread across the organization, and will no longer be confined just to business travelers
  • Self-provisioning user base - The next generation of users will be digital savvy and will often select their own hardware and software

Two kinds of IT professionals

While the ReadWriteWeb has accurately described the environment that is revolutionizing the traditional IT department, I have a different conclusion about what it will mean for IT professionals. I think the ultimate factor driving change in the profession will be the long-developing trend toward companies hiring only the professionals who serve the core competencies of their business, and outsourcing everything else to contractors.

This is already be seen in the move toward utility computing and managed services, where a company will contract out parts of its IT department to a provider such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, or Verizon Business. These providers can offer 24/7 service, better specialization and problem solving, and cost containment.

The move to cloud computing will further accelerate the trend. For example, instead of hiring Exchange administrators to manage internal Microsoft Exchange servers, many companies will outsource the Exchange infrastructure to Microsoft in a hosted environment. This type of move also migrates the jobs from the individual company to the provider of the hosted data center.

As such, I believe that over the next decade the IT field will develop into two distinct tracks:

  1. Business analysts - IT professionals who work directly for individual companies -- rather than part of a provider or consultancy -- will have to become much more business savvy. These will essentially be business professionals who understand technology and how to strategically apply it to business processes. They will need to be well-rounded technologically and have excellent communications skills.
  2. Technology experts - This is where many of the traditional geeks will end up, although many of them will need more business skills than they currently have today, especially if they have to interface with clients. They will rarely work directly for one company, but will rather work with various companies to help solve their IT problems, implement new technologies, and manage their IT infrastructures. For example, this will take the form of well-rounded teams of project-for-hire developers and big data centers managed by large teams of network and server specialists.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

199 comments
brian
brian

If anything, we're finally getting INTEGRATED into the rest of the business, identified as important as Marketing, as useful as Sales, as essential as R&D, and time sensitive as Finance. Someday, nearly all companies will have a CIO who does NOT report to the CFO, but is truly a peer in the business decision processes too. All of us in IT adapt to these changes constantly. 10 years ago, who whould have imagined we could carry 4GB of data in our pockets for $25, and you can connect it to darn near every working computer on the planet? I come from a time when it was important to know serial pinouts so you could solder the wires (by yourself) and be able to crimp your own RG58U cable to build then entire office LAN yourself too. I also embrace the simplicity of having a bootable USB thumb drive (and configure it myself.) Everytime we turn around there's a new SOMETHING: Application, compiler language, OS flavor, networking technology, hardware change, and so on. We're the ones who "figure it out" - for ourselves and when others manage to muck it up. Better keep your geek handy after run that gadget through the washer and dryer. Go rent the movie, Phase IV, circa 1974, if you need more insight (and you have insomnia....) Try that newfangled thingamabob, netflix. Warning: They don't do VHS. We are constantly evolving, you just haven't noticed.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I'm used to it; bring it on!

JCitizen
JCitizen

and so was the post I answered. It should be deleted too!

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

Apart from a handful of "pop stars" and "cowboys" most geeks are still doing what they have always done- Quietly challenging the 'norms', extending the 'limits' and rewriting the 'rules' in whatever field they they work (not all geeks are computer geeks). And they will continue to innovate, discover and enable for the foreseeable future. Try to keep up. ;)

cameronn
cameronn

I'm involved with eLearning project management and the problems I have tend to be due to a lack of flexibility. Most IT Depts are structured around on-site boxes and handling data. The expectation is the business will comply with the IT manager's IT view of the world. Most of these guys are not keeping up. It frusrates the business and it annoys the hell out of the new breed of geeks who have ideas (and with increasing frequently, social and organisational skills). All IT depts need to open up a new section - the "Department of Dangerous Ideas". Give them a few young keen wiz kids, a smart project manager with a bit of organisational clout, a couple of "dirty" servers and a brief to say "yes" when people knock on their door. ancoming We need don't need basement geeks who were brought up on DOS and coding in binary

jedmundson
jedmundson

Come on! For generations a large portion of the workforce use a version of what is said in the mountains of western North Carolina *What button do I mash to make it work?* Meaning - They don't want to be bothered with learning how to do what we Geeks do. They're not stupid, they just aren't interested in it. All they want to do is do what is needed to get the job done.

jedmundson
jedmundson

Come on! For generations a large portion of the workforce use a version of what is said in the mountains of western North Carolina *What button do I mash to make it work?* Meaning - They don't want to be bothered with learning how to do what we Geeks do. They're not stupid, they just aren't interested in it. All they want to do is do what is needed to get the job done.

philr
philr

I have heard this talk for the last 40 years. As the French say, "Plus ca change mais plus ca meme chose." This is a journo's beat up.

ndsatya
ndsatya

Jason, with due respect, this piece is out of blue. There is no reseach, no multiple credible references! And how did you come to this Conclusion? If you ask Steve Jobs, he tells Java is dead. If you ask Microsoft, they will tell Mac is dead. If you ask Google they will tell no one uses Java Tiger that much. To me, it is tech insanity check! Satya

jonsaint
jonsaint

Since most IT headaches originate when the CEO reads an airline magazine (SAP, ERP in general) or gets a sales call from an IBM sales person with even less knowledge than he, what about the coming trends you have mentioned yet, Jason? ITIL and SOA will fix all the problems mentioned above for not much more than a "hundred dollars."

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

Thirty five years ago, an old, wrinkled computer sage gave me some words of wisdom as I worked on the code that opened the landing gear doors for the Space Shuttle. I was a young, impressionable and incredibly stupid engineer. He said: "Son, the electrons and photons flow and get stored only one way down the wire or fiber. Everything above that is essentially bullsh_t created by humanity for the sole purpose of the Darwinian survival of incompetence and laziness." In other words, most of IT are words and acronyms that are made for sales, CYA and job security despite incompetence. So we appear to have a new acronymial (maybe more acrimonious)concept generically called "IT 2.0" (and very loosely defined) that will allegedly wipeout IT as we know it. To that, I say Bull! First, things change all too slowly. As evidence, I'll just show you some more production "chad" during next November's elections based on a technology that was modelled after the US 1890 dollar bill, the Hollerith 80 column card. No human endeavor changes quickly, and even if IT 2.0 was the greatest thing since sliced bread, IT 1.0 and even IT 0.1 will still be around way after all of us are pushing up the daisies. In technology, the more things change the more they stay the same, and technology changes much faster than business. Hell, I know extremely successful CIO's that still would like to be able to "hold, see and feel the data like in the old days"! and there's nothing wrong with that! Old Sam Walton and some good business types with a few geeks changed the retail world a few years back when they tinkered with VSAT and LAN technology and created an "impossible" technological innovation that combined with a fantastic store placement business strategy put K-Mart (a leading innovator of IT and land based networks at that time) into the dustbin of business history. Do geeks go away? Well, did Leonardo Da Vinci, the patron saint of Geeks go away? Nah. The geek may change what they hold in their hands and the acronyms they speak, but their personalities and desire to continually learn and tinker is eternal and is required for a team to win in business, especially in this increasingly innovative business environment. Geeks will just change from today's geeky toys to IT 2.0 geeky toys. The master geeks will have the skill to weave the past (yes and that includes Leonardo's ideas and toys) with today's IT 1.0 toys and tomorrows IT 2.0 and IT 3.0 toys into solid solutions guided by business types that can see through the ugliness of complexity to the beauty of simplicity and know how this concept a geek came up with can meet their purpose. What we have in IT 2.0 (and I'm pushing it here onto a grammatical pedestal that it doesn't deserve) is yet another turn of the commoditization of current information technology. Those who understand its potential and its perils will succeed, though success in the marketplace doesn't mean you have to embrace it. As a matter of fact, I predict some businesses will fail because they embraced it without good "geek advice". The key to success is good leadership that is inclusive, not divisive. With good leadership, you thrive in and exploit diverse people, technological diversity and business change. Good leadership is leading the understanding of change through a balanced team that includes business types and geeks to achieve the objectives.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

A universal immutable law is: You can't have the best of both worlds. A jack of two trades is a master at none of them. There will always be the need for technical experts and they will always make the big bucks. I work for a small company and I find myself having to be a jack-of-all trades and wearer of many hats. I have a customer-facing position where I'm forced to understand the business and leave the technical heavy-lifting to the experts. It's impossible for me to be an expert at one thing in a business analyst role where I'm torn between two roles. When I run into a technical hurdle, I'll have to run to a geek to get the solution. There are times I wish I could be locked in a room where all I have to do is interface with a manager who gives clear, concise requirements and leaves the techical stuff up to me. This requires the manager to be a business guy with a tech background--and not the other way around. This guy has to understand what its like to be in the trenches and when to be hands off or when to give more guidance. I've been a victim of having a "tech person" with a business background. This "tech person" took a computer 101 class at a community college and knows how to make slick Excel worksheets that dazzle the rest of the management team and was henceforth knighted "IT Manager" or "Project Manager" although they know jack and squat about coding or jack and squat about IT infrastructure. A tech guy who graduates to over-seeing technical operations has a better understanding of what demands he's placing on this technical staff. And face it, it's easier for a tech guy to understand the ins and out of the business than a business guy to know the ins and out of programming and IT infrastructure. So the problem with mucked-up projects is unclear, unrealistic and un-focused requirements. A good IT Manager or IT Project Manager knows how to communicate with both his technical staff and management. This communication involves more than just interpreting the needs of the business into "tech-ese", but knowing what's doable and what's not and not driving his technical staff into the ground. I once had an IT manager that tried to get me to manually put in 100 user accounts into 9 seperate databases (that's 900 individual entries) and didn't even think to ask if our programmer could write a script that would do that automatically. I almost quit over that as if I didn't have bigger fish to fry in a company where I was the only IT guy.

spam.isohateyou
spam.isohateyou

We hear lots of hyperbole about how everything is about to change, but for the most part everything pretty much stays the same and change is just a reapplication of old principles. This will be no different. The ones getting the CTO jobs now are the ones with both good technical chops and good political and business skills. If that's not what you've got then your org is in trouble one way or the other because either he can't articulate what will make your infrastructure solid, or what he's articulating sounds good but won't work.

derekcsimmons
derekcsimmons

As for those tech-savvy users... last week we had to get a printer repaired because somebody put the paper on the wrong side of the tray. Today, I invested 2 man-hours clearing paper jams because somebody overstuffed a printer paper tray.

ID.10.T
ID.10.T

One way to look at this article is that it implies the ultimate consolidation (i.e.control) of most of the Geek talent concentrated into just a few companies (i.e. Microsoft, Google, etc.) Does anyone think that is a good thing? I don't. It will become too temping for those giants to abandon customer driven solutions into here's what were offering take it or leave it.

jonathan.ludwig
jonathan.ludwig

I'm not really sure what he means by tomorrow. Any successful technology expert should already have made this move. If you haven't, I'm sorry, but you'll be condemned to doing nothing but tech support and being hidden away in the server closet. You need to be able to interact with the rest of the office in a manner that doesn't have people telling their boss how you creep them out everything you're around. As for the tech decision makers, you need to support the business, and increase the bottom line to be successful. It might not be tangible, but if you're implementing projects for the "love of technology" you'll be out the door as soon as someone starts running numbers...

tofarrell
tofarrell

Those of us that are doing the actual work (command line or not) need to learn how to market our personalized service and expertise to the new breed of tech savvy corporate execs or be relegated to the lower paying sweatshop environment of a data center...

owen
owen

Since I came from the users side of the business in 1997 due the lack of understanding of the business from the support group I have always been a "geek" that cares about the business. I hope the rest of the world does not figure this out becuase it will give them a chance to run off with my clients.

Fregeus
Fregeus

The business world and the IT world never really got along since the Y2K debacle. The business folks have been trying really hard to get rid of "geeks" ever since. But I'm afraid, its easier said than done. They both need each other. Businesses need high end IT to be competitive in more ways than one. Geeks need businesses for work. For without businesses, geeks would be garage rats making all sorts of useless junk just to see if they can. Geeks have come a long way since 2000. We are learning more and more about businesses, their process, their priorities and needs. Its tough for the older techies and I understand that. Perhaps the new techie 2.0 that the article should refence to is a more business oriented techie. But he/she will still be a techie, maybe not a full geek, but a techie non the less. TCB

ID.10.T
ID.10.T

For some companies, outsourcing to so called "cloud" providers may make sense. It highly depends on the service. However, when it comes to companies that possess valuable intellectual property, trade secrets, and other valuable corporate data, those companies will be foolish to let that information get outside their internal IT networks and be put at risk. There may be a transistion, but I cannot see an overwhelming one.

tkadom
tkadom

technologies such as cloud computing will make the well heeled it geeks scratch their heads! Exchange in a cloud? why in the world?!? More likely exchange goes out the window as companies realize the savings of google apps and throw their exchange management nightmares out the window to let google deal with it. My small business has let google handle all the mail. My customers still see users @ mydomain.com, I have no need to figure out how much money i need to send microsoft next year, and all the maintenance nightmares are out the window. I don't see the traditional geeks changing. I see them becoming rare commodities. Even with the core of development work being outsourced, true geeks will begin to morph into software inspectors to ensure that the code that is delivered was worth the can of peanuts that was paid for it. Only the truly introverted technology geek will devote enough time away from social skills to keep up with the ever accellerating technology curve.

Slartibartfast
Slartibartfast

I've been in IT for over three decades and I've lost count of the number of times I've heard this basic premise (although this is an updated version). Hasn't happened yet. It's in danger of happening now if we're not careful. Classifying people who know how to use a command prompt as worthless from a business sense is not strictly accurate. True technical thought leadership, despite our efforts to force it all offshore, comes from those very people, and without them many of the technical innovations we have today would not exist. If we continue to promote IT as someone who understands business and practical application of technology, rather than creation of ideas and products and the use of those ideas and products as a competitive edge for the company that funds them, we will end up as IT departments whose only skill is customizing facebook pages. Technical innovators (aka "Geeks") in the world portrayed in this post will die out after a generation, leaving us at the mercy of countries that still encourage technical ability over the ability to read a balance sheet in their IT industries (or speculate on sub prime mortgages for that matter). Maybe I'm just too cynical. Yes, that must be it. Andy

dcolbert
dcolbert

Blogging and Group and team collaboration-ware? Thumbs up... This may go a long way to changing how people work and collaborate with one another. Cloud services? I'm on the fence - this one has been a looooooooong time coming, and it *always* meets with resistance. In the mid 90s, working for MCI, the "thin-client" revolution was going to "bring back big-iron back-end servers". This is the same thing, just even further distributed and with even more of the natural client-server issues, and with those issues exasperated. There is a slice available for hosted remote solutions - but I think poor execution and the natural liabilities of this kind of distribution of services and applications in a business environment makes it unlikely to be a significant factor. Cloud services inevitably imply pay-for-play subscription or usage based fees that generate a reoccuring revenue stream for the merchant/publisher but represent a constant stream of profit-cutting expense from the subscriber. It changes productivity applications to a utility model. Ask most businesses how they feel about current utilities that they pay, like power, or traditional phone services. Why would business be eager to embrace another service offered on this model? There are additional issues with control, security, responsiveness. I think this will continue to sputter along like thin-client solutions. People want to "own" their machine and have their apps and code run local on them - they want their data local - I also don't see remote response over the cloud in a multi-user environment *ever* surpassing the kind of performance a person can get running a local app on a single user environment over the local bus. A lot of people bought into the hype over the change back to thin-client paradigms, but it just never really happened. I think this is a variation on that theme. The mobile workforce? Iffy. I think there are tremendous potential benefits to any organization leveraging highly mobile workforces (including remote workers working from home, with the shifting of a ton of incidental expenses back to the WFH employee and away from the business). A very mobile work-force also helps move Cloud Services into a more viable position. Unfortunately, I think that most managers of middle to executive level continue to have a very pessimistic view on remote workers, and I don't think there is a tidal change in opinion across industries that will change that any time soon. The percentage of people who can effectively work remote/mobile positions effectively without abusing the freedom of such a position is probably a fairly small portion of the overall workforce. I'd tie an analogy here between people who need traditional education versus those that can be effective in self-paced and/or remote learning environments. Most people still need well defined structure and oversight. There are some who can excel in looser, less structured environments, but they are the minority. Until that changes, mobile/remote workforces are going to continue to be an ellusive goal for business. Self Provisioning user base. Right... because... people are so much more technically saavy today than they were ten years ago. Almost everyone is a closet propeller-head who plays WoW or an online FPS during their free time, these days. And... technology has become so standardized that it is EASY for support services to provide top-notch and consistent support for dozens and dozens of different potential data devices. Why should business technology support services care if you use an Apple, Microsoft, Linux, Unix, Palm, or whatever other device to connect and access business information? Heck, do it with your PS-3 or Xbox 360, for all IT should care, because cloud services and a remote workforce will make this all transparent, right? Oddly enough, one of my concerns is that we host apps through Citrix, and certain versions of the Macintosh Citrix client can cause servers to hang. Now, being a PC shop that has the occasional user who wants to "Self-provision" using their Mac, I can tell you, keeping track of ever potential pitfall like THAT becomes a fairly unmanagable task the more different things you throw into the mix. These predictions will fail, because the roadmap that they propose flies in the face with KISS principles. It makes things overly complicated, and introduces dozens and dozens of potential single points of failure. The costs to realize stability, performance and supportability in a model like this make it prohibitively expensive currently, barring some sort of huge technology breakthrough that can deliver those things at a dramatically decreased cost. Maybe in 30 years... Maybe when Linux replaces Win32 on the corporate desktop and Mac OS replaces Win32 on the back-office.

roy
roy

I fully agree with this article. I would also add that many of the classic IT "integration" problems focused on technology interfaces, data integration, and data dictionaries will be solved by "semantic analysis" technologies and practices resulting in globalized controlled vocabularies, which will simultaneously also reduce the "human" integration problems related to misunderstandings and garbled vocabulary (i.e., tower of babel factor).

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"ReadWriteWeb cited these four: * Enteprise 2.0 - Collaboration * The mobile workforce * Self-provisioning user base" These three trends have been underway for several years now.

billcooey
billcooey

The geeks will be gone and IT departments will no longer exist at the company level directly. However, the geeks will work for multiple companies by working for an IT outsourcer. It is already happening.

Xenti
Xenti

Unfortunately this is brutally true. In my case I have a CIO that is the CFO and the guy doesn't know crap about technology. What a crock that is. He just likes to dabble in it and screw over everyone in the process. I am one of the many true "Geeks" as people would call us today, but I also am able to interact with the users and explain things in non-IT terms. I started as a Technical Support Specialist (yes i started at the beginning) and have worked my way to become the Information Security Administrator and Windows System Administrator while also consulting to a doctors office here in my local town. Have I even stepped one foot on a college campus. No way. People have to face it. Technology will always be here and will constantly evolve. If you cant keep up with the young guys (which at the time of this writing I'm nearly 21) then get outta this business. The days of the AS400 are gone and the old Admins, and I use that term loosely, will either learn to adapt to todays technology or quit. Its as simple as that.

John Larimer
John Larimer

Ding, ding, ding! WINNA, WINNA WINNA! That was the best and most accurate post in this discussion. Full kudos' from this geek.

tkadom
tkadom

Keeping up with the latest technology trends today is much more difficult than it was 20 years ago because the leaps are much more frequent. As long as there is technology to assimilate, tech savvy folks will be needed to do the translation. I think the "Business Savvy" geek is a myth. Maybe all business people will become more technical, but that will not make them geeks. The guys who devote their time to technology because its what makes them tick will always be out there, and will be in higher demand than ever before.

Kjell_Andorsen
Kjell_Andorsen

Only a Non-Geek would be offended at such a great term. Real geeks have a sense of humor.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I would apologize for an unintended offense. However, in this case, I think it's totally unwarranted. In the technology world, "geek" is usually a badge of honor. We often refer to ourselves that way. In fact, TechRepublic has a very popular feature called "Geekend" and no one has ever objected to our use of geek in that context. Thus, I think it's fair game.

philr
philr

You hit it on the head. Sales people will always find a way around the advice given internally... if they can. Glossy magazines and dinners at the club are lethal. In 1983 I recommended a switch to a flat file DBMS. We needed to prepare for the arrival of RDBMSs. A colleague said, "Hey, I saw a group of *** salesmen going to the executive suite!" Later on my boss was offered a free trip from NZ to California to see that supplier's latest technologies. Some years later I visited the IT manager. "I am paying over $1,000,000 p.a. to maintain this system. How can I get out of this bind." I zipped my mouth. Saying, "I warned you" is not a tactful reply!!! The temptation to do so was enormous.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

After 36 years in IT (34 of them inside the blue pig) I loved your comment!

theonlyrealpersonhere
theonlyrealpersonhere

You are so right, Rich. I am lucky enough to have the best IT Manager in the world. He does what I tell him and his reward is to have the best in-house software in the world. And he knows it. In front of the owner, he's the boss. Back in his office, I am. The problem everywhere else is that IT Managers are pathological control freaks. The programmer is just a person they keep around to blame when the "system" they forced on the programmer goes south of the border.

tungstendiadem
tungstendiadem

I am really quite fond of the notion that mean spirited epithets might fall by the wayside even if some people tell Socucius Ergola they'd make it badge of honor instead of making up a worse name to call their cousin until he stops with the name calling.

philr
philr

What a good post! An IS/IT Manager actually runs a business within a business. Good IS/IT Managers are rare, and partially because the business expects perfection without understanding the technological shifts and constraints of the various architectures such a manager was lumbered with on starting. I once inherited 13 O/S's and we only had about 150 staff (I had 2 IT staff). Security was non existant and there was a consultant running around undermining my efforts... A major package was being installed. This "project" was a mess and the software was still in development. Managing expectations is difficult when you have a delinquent organisation!! I left shortly after getting the O/S count to 4 and exiting the project via non-Y2K compliance issue. That supplier folded soon after. IS/IT is probably more difficult than general management and good IS/IT managers are as rare as hen's teeth. Finding one in a small outfit is even rarer.

jbartoli
jbartoli

No, the Geeks won't die; they will just change. the same way they have change for the last 20, 30, 40 years! Will tomorrow's geeks have to be more buisness savvy? Yes, but hasn't that been an ongoing trend for the last several years? as many have said, there will always be a need for geeks, but those geeks will also have to chage and adapt to the changing environment... as they always have!

hlhowell
hlhowell

Most company folks do not even now understand that the person making backups, reloading data, and dealing with every day needs of corporate networks have full access to the "IP" of their company. Many don't know that email is not point to point, and even fewer understand encryption and security as it pertains to computing and electronics. Even many geeks are weak on the last two. Cloud computing sounds so benign, but it is not new. It is a reincarnation of what the PC killed already. Will it return.... Sure as Angel Wings, lace Ruffled shirts and Disco. Regards, Les H

blissb
blissb

when some disgruntled Google employee sells your customers' email address lists and those of a thousand other small businesses to your competitors/identity thieves/spammers ... A disgruntled employee of yours might do the same, but the likelihood is much smaller, as the payoff would be significantly smaller.

jsbell
jsbell

Essentially, the human proclivity for technological problem solving is probably genetically driven. It is a survival trait. Thus, for any successful business, there is a problem domain that those with the bean-counting gene simply cannot address. Furthermore, those key individuals who are adept at those kinds of problems are focused integration points, where specific business knowledge unites with technical virtuosity to create a power to act not present in weaker competitors. If we allow the wishful thinkers, who want the world to count beans as well as they do, to simply continue their wishful thinking, all will be well. They will continue to rely on Geekism because they have no choice if they wish to convert their other dreams into hard reality. But if we mindlessly surrender to their false vision of utopia, if we specifically target and successfully eliminate from the business matrix those who actually enjoy the creative process inherent in making things work, we will reap what we have sown.

bcarpent1228
bcarpent1228

I agree with the article and the ""classic IT "integration"" (many large companies are currently pursuing this trend) there are business implications to cloud-computing far greater than the "geek annoyance factor" The security problem: company data residing on multiple world-wide computer sites - your competitor's data on the same site(s) run by the same company. The uniqueness problem: how will your company develop a "competitively unique profile" when forced to adapt to a new set of (cloud-computing) vendor's "homogenized technological vocabulary" Data accessibility: a major problem facing cloud-computing is the communications infra-structure. Can your company survive the long delays anticipated in accessing company data. Certainly these problems can be solved - but i contend the forced adaptation to a few "wholesale vendors of data" will create business problems far greater than the classic IT integration problem. The management skill set required to handle these problems does not exist in most companies - those companies will fail - ---however--- Ideological and business "terrorists" will be pleased to concentrate their efforts on a much smaller, but greater targets.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

the discussion of their effect on IT's current transition is extremely relevant.

alaniane
alaniane

What is needed is a translator between the two camps and not the elimination of one camp. Traditionally, in business we've had Accounting and Sales. We don't expect our bookkeepers to be good salesmen or saleswomen and we definitely don't expect the sales staff to be good bookkeepers or accountants. IT is just a different area under the business and it's job is to know the technology behind the business. Why should we expect our IT staff to know how to run the business?

WKL
WKL

"In the technology world, "geek" is usually a badge of honor. We often refer to ourselves that way" Think again. The only people who refer to themselves or others that they think are like themselves as "geeks" are hobbyists or technological enthusiasts and dilettantes who hardly bear any serious professional demeanor or intent toward technology. I personally have never known a true scientific/technical adept or professional call themselves a "geek". As a real technical adept myself, I certainly don't, and I'll tell you why. This society has a bad habit of treating those with a penchant for science and technology as a bunch of undesirables. Especially among Authoritarians and their Followers (within the meaning set forth by Bob Altemeyer, Phd.) Technical Truth is our currency, after all, but speaking Truth to Power doesn't win you any friends among the Empowered Elite. Mainstream media and cinema frequently portray technical adepts as "oddballs", "freaks", "outsiders", socially dysfunctional loners, mentally disturbed or demented sociopaths. So much so that when people feel "inferior" to such workers (often as a result of technical professionals merely doing their job!), they often harbor resentment, sarcastically referring to them as "geniuses", "wizzes", "geeks", "nerds", "savants" and the like. Many are unabashedly bigoted, promoting the stereotype of the technical adept as being inhuman when in fact they understand human nature and the human condition quite well, usually far better than the bigots. Corporate management types see this prejudice portrayed in media, including articles such as this, and, being the apes that they ultimately are, come to accept it. They too harbor a bigoted attitude, interviewing candidates for technical positions with such faux-psychology interrogatives as "What kind of dinosaur would you be?" or "What would you do if you were hanging upside down and I asked you to fetch me something yummy?" and similar nonsense intended to "get under the skin" of the "inhuman geeks". And, of course, constantly asserting notions like "geeks aren't team players" and "geeks just don't understand business' so they are an impediment to it. "How nice everything would be if we could just get rid of the damned geeks!" Of course the same kinds of people also said, "How nice it would be if we got rid of all the niggers." Or the kikes. Or the redskins. Or the wetbacks. Or the Mics. Or the Nips. Or the Chinks. The vast disconnect between authoritarian types in all kinds of positions and the scientific/technical worker is all too well established, as well. Manipulative authoritarian control freaks routinely take every advantage of those who would rather embrace logical scientific truth and fact instead of lying, cheating, being hypocritical and generally screwing people over for the sake of money, political gain or religious dogma. In business, the exaggerated sense of entitlement and authority on the part of many managers leads them to believe that they have the right to DEMAND respect and control over others simply by virtue of their damned corporate title. (At least the military and law enforcement personnel are being brutally honest in a perverse sense when they coerce respect by holding a gun to your head.) All that matters to the authoritarian elitist bigot is whether everyone else is as big a bullshitter as they are. All that matters is that they surround themselves with people who support their absurd delusion that their world is all that matters, is the REAL world, and what anyone else thinks doesn't matter. In their delusion, they cannot accept that things like respect, trust, loyalty and admiration are earned through the experience of interacting with your fellow workers. To such sociopsychopaths, accustomed as they are in thinking that Reality is just what they decide it is, in their image and likeness and for their purpose, the very concept of objective scientific and technical truth and fact are quite alien and antithetical to their very nature. And, therefore, so are we.

jonsaint
jonsaint

Jason- It's been fascinating to watch this discussion roll around the world. At the risk of setting off another roar, my observations at the moment are: Each organization has its own particular past and present computing paradigm. From a view of city government, mine in particular; we service 25+ competing and entirely different customers. There is no way to stick to consistent development architecture when you are serving a diverse group such as the Police, Finance and Public Health Departments. Thus in our IT shop we have Business Planners to represent and intermingle with the customers, understand their problems and research the solutions. We only have a few hard and fast rules: there can be only one database and that is SQL, there can be only one network architecture and that is TCP/IP, and there can be only one hardware platform and that is Intel. Is anyone else out there actively using business planners to elicit requirements and bring them back to the developers?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I thought these were concepts that many organizations were either planning to implement or had already done so. Apparently not...

philr
philr

I once worked in a culture where the work force had done military service before starting their careers. I found that the concept of authority was warped. A person within a hierarchy may be more authoritative on an issue but persons gripped by authoritarianism asserted themselves over the this authority by using their rank not their authority. Hierarchies are generally (not always - and military contexts throw these up more than most) weaker than teams. I personally detest authoritarianism with a passion, but respect authority.

alaniane
alaniane

we have Business Planners providing us developers with the specs needed. In the past, we've had to gather our own specs by directly interacting with the users. The problem with that approach is that each user will come up with a different set of criteria for what the app should accomplish. By having Business planners hammer out all of the necessary compromises between parties, it's saved us time developing. We're a small outfit (around 200 or so computers in about five different locations), so we still will interact with the users to clarify details. Before we had a project manager that was supposed to solidify the spec before handing it to us to develop, but this guy was really lousy at getting the necessary requirements from users. Most of the spec I got from him was still in the early part of the planning stage and definitely not fit for developing. It was frustrating having to do both the PMs job and the developing and trying to meet the project deadline. They finally canned the PM.