It has to be said that some of us have strange ideas about IT people. And it must also be admitted that some IT people can seem a bit, well, strange. Mind you, so can some footballers, accountants, salespeople, doctors and (lots of) celebrities, not to mention recruiters, so they are not alone.
That said, it is interesting (strange?) how IT people tend to have pejorative names applied to them. Think of the nouns and adjectives that are routinely appended to, say, Mark Zuckerberg, and you get the general idea. Or if you’ve seen Only Connect on BBC, you’ll know what to expect when a team is called ‘Coders’ for example. And if you are still not with me, try Googling ‘Geeks, Nerds, Dorks Venn Diagram’ and you’ll definitely see what I mean.
Now try Googling ‘What does Mark Zuckerberg make in a day’. One of the (many) answers is $821,917. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s more than I make (although I’m working on it). IT makes (lots of) money.
Now consider what you do when you go on holiday. Do you, like me, go to SkyScanner to check the airline prices? Do you go to LastMinute.hols or others of that ilk? Or do you go to a Travel Agent (note for younger readers, a travel agency was a shop which you used to have to go to in order to get your holidays organised for you – how strange is that?!). When you drive your car, does its on-board satnav tell you how far you are from your destination, or do you have to fiddle about under the seat to find that big Road Atlas from Bargain Books? When you click on Bluetooth to connect your mobile in the car, does it let you speak, hands-free, or do you still carry a pager and have to stop and find a phone box?
It is geeky people who make all those digital thingies that we take for granted actually happen. They are extremely important to the economy and, in fact are doing very well indeed, thank you very much. We know – at Be-IT we are constantly amazed at just how large are the salaries they can command. Their work is critical to our nation’s success and we need more people (especially women, as my colleague Alma will write about in the next few weeks) to train to become technology experts. Given how important they are, we need lots more! Which is why I’m emphasising not just how vital they are to the economy, but also how financially (and professionally) rewarding their careers can be.
Finally, one of the other names that is occasionally applied to our technology-savvy friends is ‘Dilberts’. Have you read the Dilbert cartoon books?* They are, according to those who know, not just side-splittingly funny about the world of (US) corporate life, but also pretty accurate in their portrayal of a bunch of tech engineers. And to return to my original paragraph, the characters in Dilbert’s team are, at their own admission, a bit weird. Yet even here, in a cartoon strip, IT makes a lot of sense, as we see how the ‘normal’ world of technology battles against marketing, management, HR and all the other departments of big business in an attempt to get them to see the light. As an example of how we are all a bit nerdy at times, it is hard to beat. Not only that, but to return to my central thesis, that IT makes money, the creator/writer/illustrator of Dilbert, Scott Adams (a former tech engineer himself), while not in the Zuckerberg class financially, is far more likely to turn left when he gets on a plane than to turn right. And that’s something we can all aspire to!
Michael Phair, Consultant, Be-IT Resourcing
* if not, have a look here: http://www.dilbert.com