Monday, July 07, 2008

When is IT about people instead of "just" technology?

There’s an emerging view that the information technology profession will continue deal business social engineering and even “cultural anthropology” and much less about code and technology for its own sake. So says Gartner researcher Tom Austin in a story in FastCompany by Kermit Pattison, link here. He goes on to say that HR and management is wrong-headed in pulling the plug on YouTube, Myspace and Facebook from office computers. Web 2.0 is an integral part of the way people relate now.

Of course, one can question his view. In the first place, what this article is calling “IT” is more what one usually calls “business analysis,” a close inspection of how a customer service representative or life insurance agent (to name only a couple of examples) goes about her job and gets information and communicates two ways with the outside-world customer. I think his views might be applicable for customer service departments at ISPs, for example, or telecommunications companies. Often CSA’s on 800 lines don’t fully grasp what a customer who calls in is really doing, and don’t grasp the interdependence of various problems that occur. Sometimes an external customer has a better grasp on this than employees in a company. Business analysts can help customer service representatives understand the full context of customer service calls.

Another point is that professionals should probably do their professional social networking (particularly on work computers) on sites that cater more specifically to their industries. Ziggs provides a good example. This seems more likely to keep stakeholders from being confused by the “anything goes” attitude on social networking profiles, a situation that has cause employers to make (inappropriate and often inaccurate) “background investigations” of job applicants’ online presence.

Jason Heller gives a perspective (“Tech Sanity Check”) on the Tech Republic blog this morning, “Is IT no longer about technology?” here.

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