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Entries in Respect (1)


In Information Technology, We Make IT Look Too Easy

Whenever someone watches a NASCAR race and sees a crash, there is a universal groan.  While we may never have driven a car at 192 miles per hour, we have seen (and perhaps have been in) crashes and can relate.

The same is true in other professional sports.  Tom Brady is a phenomenal athlete, and we can enjoy watching him perform because we’ve all tried tossing a ball.  Of course, we don’t see the years of conditioning, or understand what it’s like to be at the bottom of a “pig pile” of 300 pound linemen.

We can enjoy a fabulous dinner because our taste buds applaud, and our senses tell us if a food is not good.  We can do this whether we’ve been a chef or not, and appreciate it more if we’ve ever boiled water for cooking pasta.  We don’t see the culinary training the chef does, or the time spent finding the perfect ingredients, and perfecting the recipe.

Police have respect because of the prospect of bullets flying at them.  Frankly, IT people don’t have many bullets flying their way (other than that last meeting.)

So why is it so many business people don’t respect IT?  I think it is because we make it look easy.

The closest thing many people come to “systems” is their Personal Computer (PC). 

By definition, a Personal Computer is personal.  While professional IT people have standards to aspire to, mere mortals do not.

How does this manifest itself?


  • Mortals carry laptops around, getting power where they can and often using free wifi.  Professionals place servers in locked rooms with lots of backup systems (power, cooling, telecom)
  • Mortals buy single disks for $100s.  Professionals buy redundant arrays and make backups bringing the costs to $100,000s.
  • Mortals do system backups randomly.  Professionals back up regularly.
  • Mortals call professionals when their systems break.  Professionals are the last line of defense, although can often reach out to manufacturers.
  • Mortals may or may not patch and use virus protection.  Professionals keep their systems protected.


So am I feeling sorry for IT?  No, I look at it as part of our job.  I can’t advocate having issues to improve appreciation.  Taking (quick) advantage of learning moments with executives is key (executives have an attention span of a nanosecond.  Any explanation longer than a tweet (140 characters) will get an eye roll.

What are your thoughts on IT and respect?