TechnologyCross-platform discussions

Cross-platform discussions

'You know IT has really gone bad, when you let the bean-counters take control of the geeks,' was the less-than-diplomatic conclusion of a panel member at a debate on the future of IT in Newcastle last week.

His comments may be devalued by the fact that the gentleman concerned – a member of the regional Broadband Stakeholder Taskforce – was Mr Techie Nerd. You could have stuck his picture in the dictionary under ‘geek’ and no further explanation would have been required.

But he has a point. The IT function is increasingly reporting to the finance chief. And some accountants are better at calculating the haricots verts than understanding the role of technology in a forward-looking business strategy. What we have here is what you might call a communications gap.

Now this doesn’t happen everywhere, but you will recognise the general principle: the business wants to build strategies that require technology, but it doesn’t understand how the damned stuff works and got its fingers burned with the dotcom boom.

The IT people understand the technology, but don’t know how to communicate it in a language understandable by the rest of the human race.

So we end up with fantastic advances and innovations left on the shelf, because no-one has found a way to communicate the benefits.

Take web services. That’s the collective name for a collection of smart protocols, programming languages and technologies that enable applications to talk to other applications.

It promises to do what the user always imagined IT would do, but never did. Remember the disappointment when you found out that you couldn’t use your new fancy system to open applications in another system?

It was like getting a cinema-standard, surround-sound monster TV with auto-popcorn dispenser and finding it only worked in the bathroom.

Those days are disappearing fast. But the beancounters and geeks need to find a way to talk to each other. Go out for a pint – maybe you’ve got the same Star Trek collections?

  • Mike Gubbins is editor of Computing.

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