End-users lack faith in IT

Technological compulsive disorder sweeps the UK.

Technological compulsive disorder is sweeping the UK.

While the health authorities work tirelessly to prevent the respiratory virus Sars from gaining a foothold in the UK, an equally sinister yet less publicised ailment has already established itself on these shores.

It is known as technological compulsive disorder, a complaint that derives from a lack of trust in IT, a worry that technology will either let you down or not work properly.

A recent survey conducted by Fujitsu hints at the size of the problem.

Of the 219 UK office workers interviewed, 40% admitted to never deleting an e-mail or electronic record, while 25% said they scrutinise every e-mail they send repeatedly because they are fearful of sending them to the wrong person.

Twenty four per cent admitted to checking their e-mails every 10 minutes, and the same number confessed to monitoring their work e-mails at home. A stressed-out 23% even said they inspect work e-mails while on holiday.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Mark Brosnan, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Bath, said some people are haunted by the spectre of unreliable IT, leading to "feelings of anxiety and a sub-optimal performance".

Perhaps this condition is a generational thing - those of us who did not grow up with technology but now use it everyday still in our heart of hearts lack faith in IT's ability to deliver all the time.

Or possibly the cause of this disorder is that most people, at one time or another, have had a PC crash on them or an e-mail not arrive at its intended destination - losing valuable work and time.

But as IT continues to permeate further into our working lives, the big question is whether this worrying malady will spread or through more reliable IT delivery can be stamped out.

While IT concerns itself with "user acceptance", maybe it should be more occupied with "user belief".

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