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Educate the IT amateurs

Everybody is an IT expert these days. It makes you wonder why any company bothers employing an IT director or a security specialist when everyone on the staff not only knows the word firewall but has their very own implementation at home.

Everybody is an IT expert these days. It makes you wonder why any company bothers employing an IT director or a security specialist when everyone on the staff not only knows the word firewall but has their very own implementation at home.

Of course, try explaining to them the difference between their highly successful Windows XP Home operation and the demands of a large corporate network with hundreds or thousands of users and they will probably start thinking about their supper instead.

It is the same when it comes to search engines. Everyone uses Google and that searches the entire World Wide Web, so it should be easy to do the same for just one company, shouldn't it?

Ask them to read our article The search for meaning, and they may see sense. The dream of easy access to all the information within an organisation wherever and however it is held is a beguiling one, but in practice it is a daunting challenge for myriad reasons, such as access rights and the danger of information overload.

In the face of demanding users who are blissfully ignorant of the nitty-gritty of large-scale corporate IT, but whose confidence has been inflated by their everyday experience of consumer technology, it is easy for older members of the IT team to pine for the long-lost days of computing as a dark art - with the IT director (or data processing manager) naturally playing the role of Merlin.

Those days will never return, but a greater willingness on the part of IT specialists to be ready to explain just what it is they do to their non-IT colleagues, while making sure neither to patronise nor blind with science, could result in fewer ungrounded gripes and even a degree of appreciation from our non-technical comrades in arms.




This was first published in October 2006

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