Thought for the day: Why don't they love us

IT professionals are too often their own worst enemies by ignoring users' anxieties and baffling them with tech talk. Web...

IT professionals are too often their own worst enemies by ignoring users' anxieties and baffling them with tech talk. Web services expert Camille Jacks reckons it's high time we changed our spots.
As a passionate advocate of the social and economic value of IT in general and web services in particular, it breaks my heart that many businesses are overly suspicious of new technologies, perhaps because of having their fingers burnt in the past or simply because of the language barrier put up by IT exponents themselves.

Bad technology investments and misunderstanding the step-by-step movement of IT developments have served to create suspicion where "the next big thing" is concerned - a case of thinking that "one bad apple has ruined the whole barrel".

But we in IT have added to the misunderstandings by complicating our explanations and descriptions of technology applications. Too often we create a language barrier that serves to redirect interest rather than inspire it.

Another block to progress is that some older but still used technologies will not allow for seamless or easy integration and "if it ain't broke don't fix it" thinking can work against willingness to embrace exciting new technologies such as web services.

Makes sense? So what are some effective solutions?

Where suspicion and bad judgments are concerned, time is the only real remedy for healing old ROI wounds. The irony is that many of the investments that lost money in the last three years were not bad ideas but badly timed.

Sometimes suppliers got overexcited before there was a real and equal demand. But at some point over the next 20 years all of these new developments are going to be relevant - the key is taking things step by step.

Where communication is concerned, it's vital to bring computer talk back to everyday language accessible to all. Technology itself can aid this communication through new media such as websites like this one, web services such as weblogs, and email.

Streamlining shop talk in the information age should just be par for the course. For example, web services like web log software (blogging) help because they give users opportunities to learn while interacting with the service itself.

Finally, with regard to old technologies and a general stubborn streak to change, independent software developers may do a considerable amount to pitch in through bringing their experience and expertise to bear on the case-by-case concerns of those reluctant to let go of their old "security blanket" systems.

It should be relatively easy to help users see that IT technology and cars have something in common. There inevitably comes a point when it's simply time to upgrade with newer more efficient equipment.

Classics will always hold sentimental value but when it comes to reliability there is inevitably a moment when it is time to look at what more can be accomplished in less time with newer technologies.

The IT industry has plenty of exciting developments of real worth to offer the world. It's time we met the world halfway by understanding others' anxieties and communicating with them in a language they understand.

What's your view?
How can IT specialists communicate more effectively about the benefits of technology? Tell us in an e-mail >> reserves the right to edit and publish answers on the Web site. Please state if your answer is not for publication.

Camille Jacks
is public relations manager for Los Angeles-based web database and e-commerce specialists
Amulet Development Corporation.

Read more on IT strategy