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Understanding I.T. in the 21st century

Well all know that I.T. – information technology and information systems – are important for our business. But have you ever stopped to think why?

We are now in the sixth decade of the I.T. business revolution, defining the starting point as the 1970s when affordable computing power started to appear. Affordable computing power started then to affect lives and business. Particularly in (then) the so-called ‘developed world’.

The 80’s saw home computers, personal computers, the birth of the IBM PC and the start of affordable business systems. In the 90’s the internet revolutionised our lives, laptops became ubiquitous. The turn of the millennium mobiles phones, then smart phones, iPads, Web 2.0.

Throughout this incredible period of growth in technology our reliance on it becomes greater every day as does the reliance on the software component of our I.T.

And yet we often think that the I.T. – Information Technology that affects our business – is somebody else’s problem.

From our laptops to our networks to our software updates – it can be difficult and frustrating to manage. We are not trusted by our I.T. providers, we feel that it’s another service that we pay for but don’t derive much value from.

I worked with a client a few years ago who wanted a guarantee that the software that we delivered would always work. In a physical world a guarantee against defects and workmanship is standard. In the software world a guarantee (against failure) is unheard of but you can get a warranty that it will be fixed. This made him nervous because his expectation was still rooted in the physical world.

Here’s the thing.

Our I.T. systems are powerful but they are only as good as the software that runs on them.

Software doesn’t come with a guarantee. Systems are mainly made of software. Systems change, software breaks.

Learn to live with your software systems, learn how they work and be prepared for them to fail.