This year for Christmas I would like you to presage a brave new world, a world where all aspirations are achievable, and where technology is subservient to the attributes of the people. But, more importantly, a land where it is understood that the word "leverage" is a noun and that the verb is "to lever".
That aside, the key in this Utopian society is that the chief executive's vision will be communicated throughout the organisation, seamlessly from top to bottom, and the workers will receive the same unsullied vision, whereas at present the chief executive may have clear vision but the message can be interpreted by the many layers of management in a totally random fashion.
The practical upshot is that the shop floor can get a woolly and uncommitted view of the future. This is not a recipe for success. Give us chief executives who find out whether their message reaches the target intact.
Santa, you would do a favour to many people if you could facilitate, within large and unwieldy organisations, a means by which people could be remunerated for either their technical ability or their management ability. We must eradicate the model whereby the only way to pay people the wage that they deserve is to promote them to a higher management grade. How many perfectly technically competent people do we know who are floundering in the swamp of middle
or senior management and not enjoying their jobs?
Peter Spens-Black, programme manager of air management systems at the Ministry of Defence
I would like a magic wand to overcome all my security issues. Every week we seem to see a new nasty virus, and then on top of viruses there are endless issues of authentication and intrusion detection. The whole security issue just keeps getting bigger every year and represents an ever-increasing overhead which users do not appreciate and do not credit us for. It just gets worse.
It would also be nice if there was a government IT training scheme that actually produced the people we want. There have been innumerable schemes and they always disappoint - the training focus never quite meets our needs.
Roger Marshall, information services director, Corporation of London
This Christmas a real gift would be more realism because IT has a habit of promising too much. But then again so do suppliers.
Another invaluable Christmas present, this time from suppliers, would be recognition, finally, that users prefer reality to hype.
It would be nice to see suppliers putting forward some achievable visions - that can be realised without us having to spend shed-loads of money. We want more reality - lots of vision, yes - but practicality and cost-effectiveness as well.
On the subject of suppliers, one very useful Christmas present for IT would be a whole bunch of negotiating skills. But at the same time I am aware that we only get out of a contract what we put in.
IT could also do with a good dose of all-round professionalism. The IT profession as a body remains fragmented and divided, with myriad user groups and lobbies which dissipate the energy of IT. If you could help us to put our house in order that would be a great gift.
If this happens, then you might just deliver another very welcome present - a government which genuinely understands what IT can do for the economy, and does not just content itself with talking airily about joined-up government.
But top of my list is a request for an end to Moore's law. If this happened IT would be free at last from the remorseless forced-march of technology churn, and this would be invaluable. Far too much time, energy and money is tied up in constantly having to rearrange the deckchairs, for doubtful returns.
If major upgrades arrived only every five years instead of the prevailing two years, it would make for far more cost-effective IT for business.
David Rippon, chairman of IT director's club, Elite
All I want for Christmas is
At a recent Computer Weekly event we asked the assembled senior IT execs what they want for Christmas. Here are some of their answers:
- A time-machine to finish off overdue projects in the future and then travel back to the present for a fanfare of user applause
- The ultimate virus zapper to save all the time, money and sheer aggravation of having to continually update virus checkers to catch new viruses. Conversely, an
e-mail outsourcing contract
- A seat on the board and the key to the chief executive's washroom
- Clean data and universal system interoperability
- Fully documented legacy systems
- Another whipping-boy for business other than IT
- Five million trained Canada geese to target chez Gates
- Grown-up IT staff
- My job
- Early retirement with a nice package
- Outsourced IT, retaining me as a highly paid account manager
- Another Y2K - the bonus was great
- .net explained
This was first published in December 2001