back to article The user view of IT delivery

It would be odd to hear from an IT pro who didn’t have ‘demanding users’, regardless of which decade of business computing we care to examine. However, the nature of the demands and the expectations of today’s users are changing. We could cite popular culture, consumer behaviour, freely available services and the ‘disposable’ …


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Sorry Martin, your turn this week

Looks like it was Atherton's turn this week to state the obvious in 700 words.

No-one yet seems to have the job of retouching Freeform Dynamics' home page photo so the eyes look in the same direction. Maybe it's some kind of message.


Okay, but...

...what of the department heads who do their level worst to cover their own shortfalls by (wrongfully) blaming IT as the source of their failings? What of the massive arse-clench that occurs right after you realize that a universally agreed-upon solution is all quoted-up, but the budget for it had been cut due to a c*ck-up in finance?

But okay, let's talk users. What of user expectations that defy belief and common sense, to the point where you can hear a distinct rumble emanating from Isaac Newton's casket? What of users who cannot for the life of them tell the difference between a CRT and LCD monitor, but insists that it's all IT's fault for their getting infected by a trojan they got off a USB-stick-loaded app (<- true story there).

Oh, I got one for you - what of execs who routinely defy IT policy (e.g. load up their laptops on pr0n and such to the point of routine virus infection), but you can't do bugger-all about it thanks to company politics?

I guess the point I'm getting at is - if you want to talk about a facet of IT, how about tackling the big and ugly stuff we get to deal with, not just stretching 'lurve the user' into a dissertation?

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User-centric IT

User-centric IT breaks down when provisioning IT for businesses purposes. The issue with user-centric IT is that users aren't central to IT. IT isn't even central to IT. Both the users and the technology are merely means to an end: making the business money. If the user can be eliminated altogether, then all the better. That’s one lest cost for the company to bear. If any chunk of IT isn’t necessary (i.e. makes the company more money than the TCO of that bit of IT) then you bin it, or just don’t go down that route.

Money is king. It’s not about “reducing costs” or even “justifying costs.” It is, plain and simply about investing wisely. If I have to make 500 widgets a day there are three possible approaches: I have humans assemble them, I can have humans assisted by some form of IT assemble them, or I can have robots assemble them. I then sit back and weigh the costs of each and choose that which will be the least expensive over the total expected period in which I would be manufacturing these widgets. For IT internal to a company, the user experience only matters so much as it is required to keep staff morale at an acceptable level.

If you are the IT/support staff responsible for IT products (hardware, software or wetware,) that end up being sold from your company to another company the equation changes. In this case, the customer is indeed king. They have other places to go; competition alone should drive down costs, force you to innovate to provide better products for the dollar. In this case, the user is very much central to everything. Their experience must be great, or they will go source the product from your competition.

So there are (sadly?) two completely different worlds of IT. Internal facing IT and external facing IT. Internal facing IT must constantly bear in mind that IT is a cost center that everyone is always looking for an excuse to eliminate. Staff must bear in mind that they themselves are cost centers that everyone is always looking to eliminate. Staff inside a company put up with far more borderline IT simply because they have to; their jobs depend on it. Internal IT staff provide much more borderline IT simply because they aren’t given the resources to provide anything better.

But when the customer is paying you for your services; everyone’s all to happy to explode, whine and carry on if it isn’t perfect. And the resources magically appear to attempt to make this perfection occur.

Same as it always was, same as it ever will be…

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Don't be ridiculous

Aw, come on.

Everybody knows that users suck. It's even on children's programs: "Users are losers."

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