The Bitter  Network Administrator

                                                A Website Dedicated to Computer Professional...and some not so Professional

Should Your Boss Be a Geek
by Graham Parks

Ask any CEO how important information technology is to their company and the vast majority would tell you that it is very important. Ask the same person if they have a company director with strong I.T. knowledge and I expect the answer would be no.

I think this is a big mistake. What a company, which is a strong user of I.T., should have is a board member who keeps an eye on emerging new technologies and has the skills and knowledge to evaluate whether they would be useful to the company. They would also be useful in evaluating current working practises and existing I.T. infrastructure in order to get the best out of existing investment. In my experience most companies fail in this. I am not advocating having a techie on the board of directors, that depth of knowledge is not necessary in that position.

I once worked for an organisation that was very keen on using I.T. to its fullest extent, but was hampered by this lack of technical knowledge at the top. The directors would not talk to knowledgeable I.T. people before making decisions because the directors kept their future plans completely to themselves until they had made these decisions.

I used to wonder how top executives evaluated their ideas before making a final decision on whether to proceed or not. I think I now know the answer. A lot of them don’t. They dream up an idea, present it to the board and if they all agree then the green light goes on. It is them left to others to try and figure out how to turn the bosses dream into reality. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes impossible. The biggest example of asking the impossible must surely be Ronald Regan’s announcement of the original “Star Wars” defence system, complete with energy weapons, lasers shooting down ICBMs. Reagan had obviously been watching too many Sci-Fi movies and got confused between fiction and reality. Just what sort of mad administration manages to announce to the world the future deployment of technology that did not exist and was decades away from being reality. The end result cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars and Reagan ended up looking a bigger fool than before. This sort of thing happens, albeit on a smaller scale, a lot.

As information technology becomes increasing important to organisations of all sizes then senior management knowledge needs to reflect that. If organisations want to cut costs then they need to get the best out of their existing investments and consider future investment from a much more knowledgeable position.