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Ask Slashdot: Are Companies Under-Investing in IT? 325

Long-time Slashdot reader johnpagenola writes: In the middle 1970's I had to choose between focusing on programming or accounting. I chose accounting because organizations were willing to pay for good accounting but not for good IT.

Forty years later the situation does not appear to have changed. Target, Equifax, ransomware, etc. show pathetically bad IT design and operation. Why does this pattern of underinvestment in and under-appreciation of IT continue?

Long-time Slashdot reader dheltzel argues that the problem is actually bad hiring practices, which over time leads to lower-quality employees. But it seems like Slashdot's readership should have their own perspective on the current state of the modern workplace.

So share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments. Are companies under-investing in IT?
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Ask Slashdot: Are Companies Under-Investing in IT?

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  • Because greed. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:40AM (#56400887)

    The problem is always the same: how to scrape by paying the minimum amount for labor and supplies. It's literally called cutting corners. It's not a new problem and it only really gets solved through the application of regulation.

    This isn't rocket science, people!

    • Re:Because greed. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:54AM (#56400929)

      Well . . . people can be greedy, too . . . not just organizations.

      I got into programming because I like to do it . . . not because I expected to make a lot of money doing it. I started in high school back in the 70's . . . with Fortran on punch cards.

      I find that people who get into IT for the money will be frustrated, because they are not getting rich fast.

      I'm not rich, but I'm not poor either. But enjoying my work is most important to me.

    • How to pay "the minimum amount for labor and supplies."

      Yes, but it appears to me that is not the main problem. The main problem is the EXTREME lack of knowledge and lack of interest in technology by most people in upper levels of management. They didn't have computers in their childhoods. They don't want to learn now, partly because they are overly busy, working 50 hours a week and having 4 children.

      That will change. Recently I was in a library when a man approached the checkout desk with his son. His little girl went to the self-checkout computer, pulled a stool from underneath the counter, stood on the stool, and started the computer checkout process. I laughed and asked the man about that. He said his little girl is 2 years old and his children are "almost like a different species".
    • Re:Because greed. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 08, 2018 @09:11AM (#56401167)

      This. American businesses have become all about how to maximize short term profits with little or no regard for long term viability of the business. I think in large part due to the stock market mentality. It doesn't matter if your business is actually healthy, it just has to look attractive to short term investors to push up your stock price until your next quarterly report.

      And I think that is strongly related to the fact that so few stocks pay dividends now. Stocks used to be (mostly) about investing in a company you believed in and waiting until your faith started to pay off in the form of dividends. The modern stock market has made it all into a "greater fool" scenario where it's all about getting an even bigger sucker than you to pay more than you did.

      So that mentality has infected/trickled into even smaller businesses and gov't/non-profit orgs because people think that is "normal" for business now.

      BTW, I'll add that this "greater fool" mentality is pretty much what is driving the cryptocurrency craze too.

      • Re:Because greed. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by wwphx ( 225607 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @12:16PM (#56401913) Homepage
        Warren Buffet (IIRC) had an excellent suggestion to encourage long-term thinking in companies: tax the C-levels 100% on their stocks if they sell them while they're in the company or their first year out. It then goes down 10-20% every year afterwards. It would eliminate pump & dump, might even kill off vultures like Bain.

        It'll never happen, but I think it's a lovely thought.
    • The biggest problem is most companies consider training employees to be a waste of money. They want them pre-trained. H1B, because you're fine with other countries having a good training and education system.
      • by Rande ( 255599 )

        I asked for $100 in manuals so that I could learn new framework in an orderly fashion.
        "Can't you just look it up on the internet?"
        "Yes, but the online tutorials are usually low quality and I'd like to learn it properly before getting hints and help from the net. It'll probably take me 5 weeks to learn instead of 2 with the manual."
        "I'll get you the manuals once we've firmly decided that we're going with that framework."
        "When will that be?"
        "When you've got a working demo that I can show the CEO".
        " AFTE

    • Is it more like rocket surgery or brain science?
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      I agree on the regulations, unfortunately. Things will change only if people that make the bad decisions become a massive liability. The only way to get there without seeing too many companies fold is by regulation, the affected organizations are simply incapable of the strategic planning needed unless forced to.

    • IT in many companies is not a revenue generator, they're just the support staff. R&D gets the money instead. So stop saying "IT" when you describe what you do and say "developer" instead and maybe the connection will be made that many of the skills overlap.

    • The biggest problem I see is Ego. Most companies need a workforce of much lower skilled employees.
      For retail, clerks, stockers, etc...
      Even Hospitals, Doctors do not make the majority of the staff, but a large amounts of people just needing some trade schooling, and high school education to get in.
      Then they have the IT Staff. Most of the company leaders don't know what to do with a set of staff who is often highly educated, Has their own vision on how to do things, and doesn't take orders literally. Their j

  • IT is costly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quonset ( 4839537 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:43AM (#56400899)

    To the average person, the only reason IT people exist is to make sure they can check in on Facebook every 30 seconds while at work and replace their keyboard when they spill coffee or soda on it.

    Aside from that, IT has no useful purpose and thus is seen as a debilitating cost. Why spend money on something which provides no value?

    • Re:IT is costly (Score:5, Informative)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @08:15AM (#56400983)

      To the average person, the only reason IT people exist is to make sure they can check in on Facebook every 30 seconds while at work and replace their keyboard when they spill coffee or soda on it.

      Aside from that, IT has no useful purpose and thus is seen as a debilitating cost. Why spend money on something which provides no value?

      So, employees wouldn't dream of taking their own garbage out, taking turns cleaning the bathrooms at work, or working in an environment that wasn't equipped with a well-functioning heat and A/C system, so maintenance and cleaning staff is fully justified in their minds.

      But the trained professionals who maintain the services that feed their social media and internet addiction, along with maintaining the systems that tend to help generate the revenue that feeds paychecks is somehow something that "provides no value"?

      If this kind of ignorant mentality exists in an organization, then the fucking hiring problem isn't in IT. I say let the "average person" flounder like a fish out of water the next time the internet goes down, or ransomware hits their system.

    • Re:IT is costly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Sunday April 08, 2018 @08:37AM (#56401041) Journal

      Why spend money on something which provides no value?

      30 years ago, I was in charge of IT for a medium company (150-200 employees). We had some PCs running 1-2-3 in the planning departments and a UNIX box with about 12 users on serial terminals.

      Back them, 1-2-3 skills were not prevalent as Excel skils are expected to be, and upper management was always glad I could pull out “complex” reports in a few hours. What was impressive was the complete trust upper management had in my young squirtness of the time. They litterally gave me the keys to their company (I could have brought it down anytime) without any questions asked.

      Familiarity breeds contempt, and as computers became more and more widespread, it only got downhill from there, to the point I got out of IT as a primary carreer goal and pursued work in other directions, only to come back to IT once in a while and getting more and more disgusted each time.

      Then I pause to think that, had I had gone to work for the railroad as I had seriously envisioned 35 years ago, I would have had my pension for a long time now. Not so with IT.

    • Exactly this. Average employees have ZERO comprehension of what goes on backend-wise. We have about 1,000 employees; we leverage Mimecast, blade servers, load balancers, a separate disaster recovery site, HA firewalls, a complex Exchange / Skype environment, etc. On top of all of that we are required to be 800-171 CUI compliant, which adds in a whole new level of complexity we are still working on hitting.

      Even the executives think that a "purchased product" is the end of whatever; and have little idea t
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      To the average person, the only reason IT people exist is to make sure they can check in on Facebook every 30 seconds while at work and replace their keyboard when they spill coffee or soda on it. Aside from that, IT has no useful purpose and thus is seen as a debilitating cost. Why spend money on something which provides no value?

      That was a common sentiment back in the days where the PC was the individual's tool and IT the support monkeys trying to keep it running. These days though many employees can't get any work done if you pull the network cable, most businesses depend on core IT systems being up and running so honestly I can't say I've heard that attitude in a long time. Heck, in many cases your customers are directly the victim because your self-service systems don't work. My impression is that there's absolutely money there

    • Indeed. Physical plant stuff (building maintenance, grounds, janitorial, etc) is seen as part of infrastructure. But most of IT (except telephones I would guess) is seen as a cost center, when it should be considered core infrastructure just like your physical buildings.

      I work in education with online and reduced seat time classes. I pointed out to the Provost that with the number of "seats" and sections we offer, and the number of employees we have, the licensing and support costs of the software we use,

    • There is much more to it than that.

      • 80/20 rule. 20% of the investment gets you 80% of the outcome.
      • Hidden inefficiency. Opportunities for improvement are masked by corporate process or culture.
      • Cloud services such as Salesforce provide a quick solution for management without the IT hassles. (But at price points significantly higher than doing it internally.)
      • IT's hands are tied by their vendors.
      • People don't understand just how much time some things take, especially on one-off things.
      • Crapware like Skype for B
      • 80/20 rule. 20% of the investment gets you 80% of the outcome.

        Yeah, I tried explaining that to the contractor building my house when I wanted a discount. He just laughed...

        Maybe the problem is that management thinks they are getting 80% of the outcome where they might be getting something between 10-40%, counting critical failures and lost opportunities.

  • by klingens ( 147173 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:44AM (#56400907)

    If you skimp on accounting, there is a lot of case law where you end up in jail.
    When you have an IT disaster you never go to jail so far. Target, Equifax, etc. certainly haven't.

    With both, if you skimp too much you might end up bankrupt. E.g. if you don't know your invoices and who owes what to whom, you go bankrupt. If that ransomware disrupts your business too long you also go bankrupt. So there is a certain needed minimum standard in both, but thanks to centuries of experience with it, accounting has much better laws, standards and especially case law than IT, raising the needed minimum bar much higher.

    • by Anonymous Coward


      But, accounting is stable, definable, and well understood.

      If anything, computing is changing faster today than 10, 20, and 30 years, ago.

      It's costs, benefits, and weakness are indefinable. Some best practices today will be worst practices in 5 years.

      Invest a year early and you could gain an advantage, but it's equally likely you will overpay for technology that is obsolete on delivery.

      Our tax structure severely punishes maintaining software.

      Until computer hardware and software stablelize, the law c

      • In the first decade of computers we went from nothing to COBOL and LEO. In the last decade c!oud has increased penetration, and there are new web frameworks, but I don't see the same revolutionary level of change.
        • COBOL most often ran on someone else's computer, not your local terminal. The cloud hasn't increased penetration, we're just back to running stuff on someone else's computer rather than our local terminals.
  • Nerds (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why does this pattern of underinvestment in and under-appreciation of IT continue?

    Because people don't like the stinky nerds, and don't care about "nerd things".

    • Re:Nerds (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @08:18AM (#56400993)

      Why does this pattern of underinvestment in and under-appreciation of IT continue?

      Because people don't like the stinky nerds, and don't care about "nerd things".

      The reference is hilarious, but the irony of this mentality in the real world is a shitload of people are employed by some of the richest nerds in the universe, who started their multi-billion dollar mega-corps doing "nerd things".

  • IT Workers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ViXiV ( 5346587 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:48AM (#56400917)
    Its because students get out of college and think they're the shit and know it all which comes down to Dunning Kruger syndrome. Companies and Corporations aren't willing to invest in self taught life long IT professionals and hackers who have dedicated their entire life to learning security and technologies, but instead want the unskilled grads who have the paper without the experience!
    • Re:IT Workers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pig Hogger ( 10379 ) <pig.hogger@gmail.NETBSDcom minus bsd> on Sunday April 08, 2018 @08:41AM (#56401055) Journal
      Amen. 55+ here with more than 35 years of full-time professional experience.

      Experience is worth shit nowadays. Companies want young squirts that know the bare minimum so they will do what they are told without question, in stead of having seasoned veterans that can smell bullshit from a mile away.

      • Because they're more willing to work for nothing. No training and really little experience gained in the environment they're put in. They have no mentors at these companies other than the big boss yelling at them. It's probably why I'm getting more and more supposedly 10 year experienced employees who really don't know anything.
  • by BlacKSacrificE ( 1089327 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:48AM (#56400919)

    My experience reflects a very reactionary industry;

    - Don't buy disks till current storage is redlining.
    - Don't buy LAN till the current one is swamped.
    - Don't patch till someone else (if you're lucky) gets raped.
    - Don't train till you you get bitten by a big knowledge gap, likely a result of the aforementioned rape.
    - Don't spend till someone bigger than you tells you to, even if a condition exists that leaves you vulnerable to any of the above points.

    If accounting operated like the IT industry, accounting as we know it would not exist. A server is recoverable, an empty ban account due to negligent or facetious handling, is not.

    I would however suggest the problem is not poor quality employee's but, as it turns out, poor quality accounting by the broader organisation. Time and time again I have seen projects and upgrades get bumped from capex to cpex till something happens that resonates high enough up the food chain for someone to open the loot box, no matter how hard the guys on the ground are petitioning for it. Perhaps it is accounting that has the poor quality employees?

  • Security is hard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @07:50AM (#56400921) Journal
    Security is hard, and there is no one who knows how to have perfect security. That's an unsolved problem.

    There are a lot of things you can do, easy things, but there aren't enough people who know how to do them. For example, not letting someone log in with an empty password []. That is a solved problem, it should never happen. But even if every company tried to hire good people, there aren't enough good people to fill every company. So they hire not good people. Unfortunate.
    • That's an unsolved problem.

      There are very few security problems that can’t be solved with a good, healthy air gap.

      • There are very few security problems that can't be solved with a good, powerful sledgehammer, but that's not going to fit most use cases.
      • Even an air-gap is imperfect. [] If you want your servers to really be secure, you could dump them overboard in the Marianas Trench as well. Not only would you not be able to communicate with them, no one would be able to gain physical access either.

        Of course, these extreme forms of addressing the problem negate the value of having connected systems in the first place - which is really a non-starter.

        Someone said it before, but it bares repeating: as long as the risks and costs of breaches are less than th

    • It's an UNSOLVABLE problem, looking at it from the viewpoint of "fixed and done". It's a continual process,due to a huge army of APTs who are constantly pushing the envelope. Executives need to realize modern ITSEC is an unending war; one in which everything with electricity is a potential target. Every company and user is a target of various criminal groups and state-level actors; often there is quite a bit of overlap between those groups. It's no longer acceptable to believe that "law enforcement" is cap
    • Security is hard, and there is no one who knows how to have perfect security. That's an unsolved problem.

      Well I wouldn't say it's an unsolved problem. I'm not sure the best way to put it, but "perfect security" is basically a false concept. It's not just that we haven't figured out how to do it or even that it's not realistically possible. It's more that... if you're thinking about "perfect security", then you're misunderstanding the concept of "security".

      To think of it outside of the realm of computers, think about trying to make a "perfectly secure" house, where no uninvited guests can come in and you can'

    • But even if every company tried to hire good people, there aren't enough good people to fill every company. So they hire not good people. Unfortunate.

      Seems like they hire nobody. There are no entry level security positions and few mid-level. The vast majority of job postings are senior level, or what should be senior level based on the ridiculous requirements. And that's where the shortage is so of course they end up with nobody at all.

  • Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brian.stinar ( 1104135 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @08:02AM (#56400945) Homepage

    As someone that owns a software company [], I am constantly attempting to push my customers towards proactive, forward thinking maintenance. It's not like CTOs, executives, and decision makes are dumb. Many times organizations are aware of systemic problems, and they would prefer to be in a break-fix model than a preventative maintenance model. Decision makers have to balance allocation of resources to different projects, and if something is presently working, why spend the resources to ensure that it continues to work? This is one approach. Additionally, I've seen IT professionals scoff at anyone with technical skills AND an ability to get their ideas into motion, and move money towards their ideas ("sales" / "suits.")

    Another approach is taken by companies with successful products, big teams, very cheap costs of capital, that are sitting on tons of cash. Those companies are able to invest tremendously into forward thinking projects, and have redundancy at all levels of their organization, and can afford to fail proactively rather than reactively. My friend at Google said for every code change he makes, two other engineers have to sign off on his code, and it has to run through a battery of automated tests before it is (carefully, and reversibly) integrated into production. I think this is the other extreme from my experience in developing, and supporting, software in New Mexico.

    I don't think it makes sense to sit on an armchair, and discuss what "companies" should, and shouldn't do - unless you are employed by such a company either as a contractor, an employee, or own a fraction of that company and you have voting rights. I'm often times able to convince people to invest more into proactive solutions, especially after a predicted disaster that has been warned about repeatedly. Even without such a motivating disaster, I'm usually able to convince people to take some proactive steps, even if they're not willing to spend as much as I'd like to convince them to, or move as fast as I'd like.

    Try convincing someone, (or yourself!) to go to the gym and you'll see what I mean with the difficulties in convincing organizations to spend money maintenance.

  • Aside from cronyism/nepotism, nobody intentionally hires crap people.

    It's the difficulty of finding the balance between IT investment, where to invest and retaining profitability as a company.

    IT is as expensive as it is important. People don't make shit decisions on purpose, this really is a bloody difficult area for business leaders.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nobody intentionally hires crap people... I'll agree there. We just came off a situation where a 6 person team was reduced to 2 because IT was "too expensive" in the CEOs eyes. We got approval to fill 1 of those lost positions but were only given funding to get an entry level person. We hired the best candidate we could find in a reasonable time in the price range, but that "savings" came with a lot of training , hand-holding,and slow delivery. Some would call that a crap hire because we couldn't replace wi

    • nobody intentionally hires crap people.

      But they intentionally hire cheap people who will definitely not rock the boat and know rule #1.

      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        IMO hiring cheap people is the same as hiring crap people. Sure, hiring expensive people does not at all assure you get good people, but it leaves the possibility. When hiring cheap, there is an assured outcome, no matter how much many in "leadership" positions are lying to themselves about it.

  • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @08:08AM (#56400965)
    People at the top are people that have been promoted beyond their abilities. The longer a company has been in existence, and the larger it is, the truer this is.

    There is a simple solution: randomly promote people to arbitrary jobs each year. It cannot possibly be worse than the present situation. And look: we can solve inequality and "pay gaps" by paying people arbitrary salaries too.

    OK, its true, I need another coffee.

  • Do companies care more about stock holders (or the board) then _________ (fill in the blank)
  • ... it is evident that companies are under-investing in IT.
  • Under-invest is subjective, just like under- or over-fund. If the company chooses to invest one cent in IT, that is exactly the correct amount. Assuming they made that decision with a correct understanding of the consequences. "under" fund or invest can only exist with a defined objective. We might ask "is IT underfunded if companies want to acheive X or Y?" but to ask generically if something is underfunded is a nonsensical question.
    • Assuming they made that decision with a correct understanding of the consequences.

      Well, yes. But that assumption is impossible to agree (or disagree) with without a discussion about context. Consequences are a thing that can happen over short, medium, long, and very long time scales. Spending to improve weak accounting practices is something that can protect you from disaster over the medium term. Spending to improve IT pays over the long and very long time scales. In any given quarter, shortchanging IT makes sense if all you care about is the next couple quarters. Yet, it was abso

  • IT people.
  • by puck01 ( 207782 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @09:30AM (#56401231)

    It is underinvested, poorly organized with focus on maximizing income streams for health care systems rather than improving health care outcome.

    I've seen enough at this point in my career in several organizations - some are hospital systems, some a health IT vendors - to be confident about this. Much of the developed systems were overseen by people with little to no real world healthcare experience. They made decisions directed to satisfy hospital system leadership which has had no serious vested interest in improving outcomes until the last few years. Most hospital systems leader have no background taking care of patients or whatever experience they have is seriously limited.

    Because I've practiced medicine (and still do) it is been appalling to me to see who is making the decisions and why.

    Now that I work for a large healthcare IT vendor and I have quite a bit of autonomy directing our resources to create content and tools that are more useful to the actual health care providers, the problem is we are understaffed to provide these products as thoroughly with as high a quality as they should be. One reason is because we have to undo much of the legacy crap - 20+ years of having non-clinical people doing this has led to frankly incorrect data and logic. If we could start with a fresh plate it would be much easier. Another is, no one wants to pay for clinically experienced people who know how to review scientific data to actually research the problems or the clinical literature to make fully informed decisions.

  • As the old saying goes, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. So, just think for a brief moment: who do you go to, to find out how to save the money? Thatâ(TM)s right: accountants. But what does IT tell you that they desperately need, whenever you go to them? Thatâ(TM)s right: more money. And so, since people generally tend to listen more intently to (and spend more money on) someone who is already telling them what they want to hear, and nobody really wants to hear from the guy who i
  • by bfwebster ( 90513 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @09:41AM (#56401275) Homepage

    I teach CS 428 ("Software Engineering") at BYU. The three texts my students read are:

    -- The Mythical Man-Month, Fred Brooks (originally published in 1975, anniversary edition in 1995)
    -- Peopleware by DeMarco and Lister (first published in 1987, currently in its 3rd edition)
    -- Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert Glass (published in 2002)

    I also recommend to them (but don't require) The Psychology of Computer Programming by Gerry Weinberg (first published in 1971)

    I tell my students if they read those first three books, they will be in the 1% (or less) of people in the IT industry who have. Yet they clearly lay out all of the foundational issues in IT, including bad hiring, bad management, bad environments, lack of understanding (by management) of how to build teams and nurture talent, and so on. They explain why we have such crappy software and why we lose $50B or so each year in failed IT projects.

    My other work is as an expert witness in litigation involving IT. About 50% of my cases are failed/disputed IT projects. My job is made easy -- though I am often depressed -- by how common and well-documented the root causes are. You'd think we'd learn. You'd be wrong. ..bruce..

    • Thanks. I'll make a note of these (some I've heard mention before), and at some point I'm going to have a thorough read.

      (I work mainly in support, so once I get exposure to a system, it's already written. However I do get curious as to how some of the stuff that we support actually get developed!)
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      The Mythical Man-Month is still very accurate in its analysis and recommendations, yet not only is it ignored today, it is often completely unknown. That is staggering, but it explains why so much IT is managed in a completely clueless fashion, despite all the major issues actually having been known for a long, long time. I have to admit I did not read the other two though, probably should fix that.

  • Accountants show companies creative accounting practices that while they might be illegal, the make money. Companies understand that.

    IT people don't do that. And since there is no real punishment for giving away your customer's credit cards and other data, it is pretty simple accounting. that an accountant is a better investment for profit than an IT security person.

  • What's an MBA? Basically, an accounting degree.

    Managers understand accounting. They understand how to judge accountants. They understand how to determine if they're hiring the right people and they're doing the right things. They can tell if an accountant is BSing them or not. This lets them make, more or less, reasonable judgements.

    They don't understand computers, even though they use them. This is not unusual. I don't understand my car, my microwave, or my dryer, beyond knowing which buttons to push.

    So th

  • Back when I started in IT in 1982, the most senior IT person in most organizations had risen through the ranks as a developer, then analyst, then team leader, etc. These days, you need little more than a project management designation to get in the door, and with a little hard work, you can soon be leading teams of developers and making important IT decisions. So in essence, the senior ranks of IT have become "polluted" with non-IT folks who lack the experience (and resulting vision) to make high quality

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. And in most large organizations, this is heading for a really big catastrophe that will take multiple decades to clean up. That is in the organizations that can survive their long-term extreme mismanagement of their IT.

  • Seriously.

    In IT more so than any other industry I've seen, people believe google searches are an acceptable substitute for training, talent and experience. Sure, an internet search can extremely helpful in finding the missing piece to a puzzle ("what was that command line option I needed to make this work?"). But so many people base their entire work efforts around google results ("how do I do --fill in the project/task--?"). While this may work in some short-term cases, in the long run it always sho
    • But so many people base their entire work efforts around google results
      You must be very unlucky. I never worked in an environment where it was remotely possible that you could find the solution of a business requirement via google or stackoverflow.
      Technical questions you can google, solutions for business requirements usually not.

  • how do you hire the good engineers so you can have good IT infrastructure?

  • I see that in action at a Fortune-500 company every day. They have "developers" and "system administrators" that are completely clueless and cannot even do the most simple things. Of course, not all of them are like that, but when you (rarely) run into somebody that actually knows their stuff, you soon after find out they are leaving or they are waiting for retirement or they are external consultants.

  • Look at how rabid the defense can get for BYOD or programming in C. THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE to standard practices in IT, the inevitable failure modes are argued to be a case of imperfect humans ... to which everyone here is the supposed exception to the rule.

    IT is fucked, money doesn't help. You need to genocide the IT industry and start over.

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Defense for BYOD generally comes down as a business mandate, to avoid the company spending money on devices when the employees can spend their own. Even bad IT would prefer not to permit BYOD, as their jobs are unambiguously easier if they control the devices (even when they do a poor job at it, at least they feel in control).

      I don't know how much bad IT can be attributed to IT depts coding in C, I rarely see an IT department do that, good or bad.

      • The attack surface from OS's and applications written in C for the average IT department is huge though. They buy/use that utter trash created by decades of overconfident programmers.

  • In my experience, at least in the last 20 years or so, most IT decisions are driven by sales people who need new and fancy enhances to the application(s) because their client's are demanding it and they say, "We need it yesterday!" What usually happens though, there's not that many client's who want the new addition(s) to justify the cost, nor are the specs very clear, and what ends up being released is buggy and ill-thought out enhancements. And what's usually driving this frenetic release, is an Excel s
  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @12:07PM (#56401871) Homepage
    Some companies view technology as an expense. Those companies are short sighted, seldom successful and have weak IT leadership. It is the job of IT leadership (the CIO, IT Director, etc.) to educate the entity at the "C" risks and rewards of technology. Also as employee, it is your job to protect yourself and your family by working for those organizations that reward you. As someone who has run IT shops for many years now, I have been the highest paid of all my peer management. My job is risk mitigation and education. If my insights and experiences fall on deaf ears, it's my duty to myself and my family to go else where.
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @12:11PM (#56401895)

    Broadly speaking, business leaders are largely unable to discern the difference in effectiveness of half-assed IT and good IT. Except for two facets:
    -You become the next equifax
    -Good IT costs more

    Of course, even if they want good IT, they can't tell the difference, so they my try to invest to get "good IT" and still get bad IT and have expectations calibrated that there is no good or bad IT, only cheap and expensive.

    One sign of bad IT is your employees complaining about how bad the systems are. From a business perspective the answer is to tell your employees to suck it up, perceive them as whiners. They can't imagine better. The tools selected come from big reputable companies with reassuring salespeople talking it up and how it has improved other customers, while the pitiable users are comparatively less well equipped to precisely explain how or why the system sucks. In the meantime, often this phenomenon is offset by the users by "shadow IT", peer support to give each other what they need to get their jobs, without telling official IT about it (because the relationship between IT and people gets adversarial). This is a strong indication IT has picked the wrong tools for the job, but it also tends to create invisible business critical systems with 'admin' as the password.

    Note that sometimes it's what bad IT does to otherwise well made software, imposing maddening workflows that make no sense on software that was designed for a sane world.

  • IT is seen as an overhead expense and it results in a lot of pressure to keep costs down.

    I think an unseen contributor to this is that IT vendors (hardware, software, etc) too often label needless churn as innovation in order to collect more revenue, resulting in a lot of business process redesign to manage the changes imposed on them by vendors.

    How much will it cost business to adapt to Windows 10? New rollout and patching processes and systems, software compatibility testing and possibly even software ch

  • I blame this on the perfect storm of Financial management taking over the business leadership role combined with the âoeour current quarterâ(TM)s results matter more than anything elseâ approach of business today. Technology played an important role in enabling Accountants/Financial folks to hold the reins. With tools like spreadsheets and data warehouses we have given the, the keys to the kingdom. The problem is that most of them are MBAs and they are trained to 1) believe it unquestionably
  • As workers in the information technology field, we sometimes lose site of the fact that information technology is a means to an end. Businesses invest accordingly.
  • Just as if you asked bakers if it's good for you if you eat more bread.

  • Corporations who's stocks are publicly traded on the stock exchange are evaluated by the market for one thing - and one thing only: profitability. The constant refrain of CEO and bean counters is they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to increase profits and grow dividends. Whatever responsibility they have to customers is secondary and largely defined by law and regulation - with a thin veneer of social responsibility thrown in when customers hackles are raised on a subject. As corpor

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Sunday April 08, 2018 @03:59PM (#56402901)
    I have rarely met an MBA who had the time of day for an Engineering type. You tell MBAs that such and such needs to be encrypted moved, backed up, or whatever critical thing for $10,000 and you won't get the budget. Then an interior designer comes in and redoes the front lobby for the 3rd time in 5 years for a cost of $250k.

    Then there are the pay scales. In any large not obviously IT company (many of which delude themselves into thinking they aren't nearly all IT like banks) you get an MBA with 5 years in getting $120k and the Engineers getting $70k. Then they wonder why they can't keep the talent.

    The MBAs even treat the accountants like trash.

    What I see are people of near zero talent who are genuinely scared of those with it. The more talent you have outside of their MBA world the more scared they are. You realize that you can save the company $10 million a year through something you found in the data and you get a pat on the back. Some MBA does a stupid deal worth $10 million (worth, not makes) and they get a rockin' bonus larger than the Engineer's salary.

    Then, hidden among the corporate world are the companies that are pretty much just Engineering people some of whom are good at sales and business. Those companies attract the top talent and often run circles around the old guard. An old guard who realize that they need to up their IT game so they outsource to India and lay off half of their employees.

    I have a simple formula. If a company has a large number of H1Bs in its staff then it will gain a short term advantage as it reduces costs and rides on its earlier momentum. In the long term it will start to find the ride bumpy, and then it will sink into oblivion. Think Yahoo, SUN, Compaq, etc. These companies were taken over by their MBAs who thought that Engineering was a commodity business.

    So to answer the original question. Crappy companies that are not going to be competitive in the long term are not investing in IT. The companies that are kicking ass and taking names are.

I've got a bad feeling about this.