Why the iPad is good news for IT professionals

There is far too much hype in the technology sector these days, but for once some of the latest hype is right: Apple’s iPad does represent a significant milestone for IT.

However, the hype is for all the wrong reasons.

The tablet device is not important because of what it looks like – it is not the first and will not be the last sexy and aesthetically pleasing piece of kit.

It is not important because of what it does or how it does it – most people have no idea what the iPad is actually for, even after they have spent £500 to buy one.

And it is not important just because it is made by Apple, despite what Steve Jobs might like us to think.

The iPad is important for the simple reason that everyone is talking about it. Even national newspapers ran reviews of the device; some put the UK launch last week on the front page. It was the moment that, finally, it became cool to be an IT expert.

For how many years have IT professionals been derided as geeks? Even that word – hated for so long by so many in corporate IT – has now attracted a degree of cachet in some circles.

Tell someone you meet at a social occasion that you work in IT, and now, instead of trying to make a rapid exit from the conversation, chances are they will be interested and want to know more.

Despite what many people might think, IT professionals are not always gadget and gizmo freaks – it is too much of a busman’s holiday. I would expect there were plenty of cynical comments in a lot of IT departments towards the people who camped out overnight to be the first in the queue at the Apple Store in London.

But those people are increasingly the users of the business systems you support. The consumer tech revolution presents a huge challenge for IT managers, but it is also an opportunity to be seized with enthusiasm. IT – your time is now.