What’s wrong with IT?

October 27, 2006

To a large degree, it's the perception of experience. The IT industry has so many things wrong with it. It tends to be 'governed' (I don't know of a better word for what I mean there, 'run' would be wrong) by people in their 50s. It's also full of Cowboys and Indians (and I don't mean 'people from India' here, I mean 'people who will work for a pittance'), and this means that some degree of governance is actually quite important.

My blog post about "How they know you know" really is a much bigger factor than assessing a candidate or helping your CV stand out from the rest. If you consider the insurance agency who need to work out how much professional indemnity to cover people for, then that helps to start consider the size of the problem. If someone's going to trust their critical data (or processes) to you (or a company for that matter), they need to be quite sure that you're not going to break everything.

If there was a boom in the health industry like the .com boom of the late 90s, you'd see hospitals popping up everywhere, full of people who had no clues about what they were doing. But would you go to any of them? No of course not… you wouldn't dream of letting someone operate on you if they didn't have the proper credentials. And yet we in the IT industry perform surgery on people's businesses on a daily basis.

The ACS is really great in that it is trying to govern the industry in some way, but in many other ways, I think they need shaking up a bit. The ACS encourages Professional Development (which is often sorely missing in professionals). They encourage community (they sponsor several special interest groups). They are active in campaigning to government and other industries of the virtues of IT. All great things, which a younger crowd might not do. But that's part of the problem. The people that run the ACS typically aren't the younger crowd.

I don't want to come across as ageist here. These people have learned a lot over their years in the industry, and really have a lot to give. They are probably the ideal crowd to be doing this type of thing. But if the perception of them is that they are irrelevant, don't understand the later generations (let alone their technologies), and are just 'governing' for the sake of it, then half the battle is lost already. And if any of this is actually true, then that's even worse.

And of course, if they are perceived this way from within the IT industry, then our industry is already a house divided against itself, and it's got no chance. Law, Accountancy, and all the other professional industries are united. They ALL get the relevant certifications and hold them dear. That makes them stronger. A lot stronger. As industries they are far more united than IT. IT can't even agree between "pro-Microsoft" and "anti-Microsoft", but that's a whole nother post.

Is the ACS the right conduit for this stuff? Well, I think probably. Who else would you pick?

And if you consider that the ACS is the right conduit, then you have to get involved, to help them change the way they're perceived, and to help them achieve their goals, which ultimately help all of us in IT.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Very interesting post. Our industry is very polarized as you state. I see the older guys who have been around and are no longer relevant then I see the younger guys who jumped into the field because that is where the money is but have no real aptitude for this.

    In competency knows no age barriers and neither do knowledge or enthusiasm.

    I just turned 50 and I’m probably one of the leading players in my field. But that is because I still have the enthusiasm for what I do. At my age I think I can keep this up for years but I often wonder of companies and others will allow me to just because of my age.

  2. robfarley

    I’m sure you are one who is vigilantly fighting the perception that older people are irrelevant to IT. I hope you succeed.

    I also hope that the converse can apply. Older people need to realise the value of younger people, just like younger people need to value the older.

    Same applies for those with degrees compared to those without.

    I think my main concern is that without a professional body, there’s no-one fighting for IT.

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