A Bunch of Whingers

A Bunch of Whingers

When you work in IT, change comes with the territory.

I'm English by birth so it could unkindly be said that whinging is in the blood. Perhaps I do have an antenna for it because I am starting to wonder if the IT industry has become a pack of whingers. Whether it is vendors bemoaning the end of 75 percent gross profit margins and the long lunch, or CIOs complaining that business users don't appreciate them, everywhere you look it seems that someone has a grievance to air. "It's no fun any more" is a common lament. Have we lost sight of the fact that this industry is still a great place to work?

I started my working life over 30 years ago as a town planner in the Welsh Office in Cardiff. I lasted barely six months before the truth dawned. The task of town planning was a somewhat repetitive job. The same can be said about a lot of occupations. It seems many people enjoy predictable routine. For me though, and I suspect for countless others in this industry, that would be soul destroying.

Like many I fell in to the IT industry more or less by accident. Nevertheless, after town planning, it was just what I needed. The great attraction of ICT for me has always been that there is something new to learn.

However, if you enjoy variety then don't complain when things change. It comes with the territory. This is a dramatically different industry from when I wrote my first column for this magazine. The Internet had barely scratched the surface, mobile technology still had an air of the exotic about it and Google, the most successful company in the IT industry today, was a mere twinkle in the eyes of its co-founders.

Change has certainly accelerated in the last few years, but I think this is for the long-term good. In many ways the IT industry back in the mid-90s was not that different from what I encountered when I entered it fifteen years earlier. It was still very much a market dominated by suppliers who wanted to ship boxes to business.

In the last decade IT has become a mainstream industry. Last year, according to McKinsey, 12 percent of newlywed Americans met online. We have swapped letters for e-mails, our entire music collection fits into an iPod and no self-respecting school child is without their mobile phone. These changes are a reflection of how IT has become just a normal consumer business. Yet, in so doing, it has opened up countless new job opportunities for IT professionals and suppliers prepared to look afresh at these new openings.

The challenge is that you must risk something to reap the rewards. As the old saying goes fortune favours the brave, but this is not easy, especially today. We live in a highly anxious world.

I think this is where the whinging comes in. Traditionalists in the IT industry are complaining because they are too scared to change. Unfortunately, in so doing they run the risk of being marginalized. An industry that constantly reinvents itself requires those working within it to do the same.

It is imperative that those of us in IT get enthused again about the potential of this industry and how it can enhance the corporate world. Global research shows that CEOs now list their major challenge as facilitating top-line growth. Those same executives are now comfortable with technology. They are attuned to new possibilities and the ways in which IT can help business through new products, services and relationships. So if it all seems tough, stop whinging. Take a Bex and think laterally. The opportunities for IT have never been greater.

Peter Hind is a freelance consultant and commentator with nearly 25 years experience in the IT industry. He is co-author of The IT Manager's Survival Guide and ran the InTEP IS executive gatherings in Australia for over 10 years

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