Monday, January 09, 2006

Why Bother?

Why Doing IT Better - and not Doing IT Right or some other variation? Because, basically I am not sure there is a right or wrong way. But there are better ways than we presently typically encounter.

At heart it is simple, software and the underlying computer hardware, ultimately reduces everything to a 0 or a 1, a yes or a no, a right or a wrong. But people (you and me) are seldom so clean cut in our judgement.

When one looks around an airport as I did this morning at Heathrow and Geneva, its easy to see IT in action. The clockwork efficiency of airports (with the exception of baggage claim at Columbus, Ohio and Boston Logan!) would be unthinkable without technology. We can wonder at the marvel everyday - as I reach my hotel room here in Geneva, I can watch TV channels from across Europe, call people around the world and wirelessly connect to the internet. When we look at law enforcement and goverment agencies, retail and manufacturing giants - there can be no room for luddite inclinations, technology in many ways now runs the world.

Yet also around there are examples of where it simply doesn't work well at all - sometimes due to underfunding, but usually due to a set of common issues, the biggest of all - underestimating the scale of work involved, and in parrallel overestimating the ability of technology to do a human task.

Add to this the continued division between those who love technology for its own sake, those who are totally disinterested in technology but love the dynamics of human interaction and business, and those that advise and guide both groups.

To Do IT Better, often requires stipping away redundant technologies, spending more time studying the people doing a task, than the technology you hope will replace them, and ultimately being pragmatic about just how far you want to go. Doing IT Better is about spending only as much as you need to, understanding the value of 'fit for purpose' as opposed to 'over-engineered', recognising that technology has its limits, and that part of your job is to set those limits.

Likewise is not about copying the competition, as from 17 years of doing this I can tell you from long experience that the kick ass competitor seldom does IT any better than you do. The reason they are the market or process leader is down to them having better people and a clearer vision and effective management style. So when I am asked why this blog is called 'Doing IT Better', that broad and sweeping generalization is the reason.

Postscript: Each day I am sent a report on blog activity that tells me who visited the site and where they are located. I am simply amazed by the popularity of this blog, how it has taken off in such a short period of time and how I now have the responsibility of writing for an ever growing number of regular readers. I have only very recently added a links and guestbook feature, and note with something of a smile how virtually nobody utilizes this (thank you Arpoov!) - and if it were not for this service I would have thought the site to be simply my diary. Yet hundreds visit regularly, from across the world and as my email address is so readily available many of you have started to send me messages. I would like to encourage this more, so that my eclectic and wandering blog posts and rants can improve and that I can also do this better.

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