The joy of being ignorant!

On March 12, Mr. Caleb Garling posted on WIRED an article titled “Study Says Most IT Guys Are Ignorant” followed by the opening line:  “Why can’t the IT guy fix your latest problem?  Odds are he’s ignorant.”  All this, according to Mr. Garling, based on CompTIA’s report of over 500 U.S. business and IT Managers.

Absolutely fascinating!  And, please, let me count the ways!

First, I find the choice of words by Mr. Garling particularly revealing.  To be clear, having read the report cover-to-cover a few times, there is nowhere in the report the word “Ignorant.”  Perhaps Mr. Garling is projecting a bit of his experience? Or is it vitriol?

Second, in both title and opening line Mr. Garling is emphatic:  It’s the “IT GUY” who’s “ignorant.”  Clearly, at Mr. Garling’s place of employment IT must be the exclusive dominon of male ignorant technologists!  How sad! I don’t even want to know how the editorial offices look like!

But, let’s skip past the blatant insults to a whole class of professionals and the blatant sexism and get to the crux of the issue, shall we?

What the study did quite correctly point out is that there is a significant skill gap among technologists across various segments of business.  The study also pointed out the primary reasons as to why.  The top two are:

  1. Ever-shifting technology landscape (46%).
  2. Lack of resources for IT skill development (43%)

Hmm… No “ignorant IT guys” listed.  Yet.  Moving right along…

The study further points out that “…80% (of) organizations indicate that their IT skills gap affects at least one business area such as staff productivity (41%), customer service/customer engagement (32%), and security (31%).”

Another interesting tidbit from the study is that there is an over 20% differential on staff productivity impact between “Very Tech Savvy Firms” and “Non Tech Savvy.”  That distinction alone is enough to raise alarms about the state of technology literacy in our corporations and to perhaps refrain from casting aspersions to IT guys and gals that continuously swim upstream, in an ever-changing river, while being beaten over the head by the ignorant natives in the canoes!  Like… you know…

There is another reason for the suffering skill sets, one that we have seen quite a lot:   More often than not, even in the best-intentioned organizations, the IT staff is overwhelmed and under-resourced with a dedicated focus on “being in touch with the business.”  That becomes the main focus of IT and a constant uphill climb to prove their value and integrate with the business.

Unfortunately, if your core business is not IT, then expecting your in-house IT people to “be one with the mother ship” and stay in touch with the even expanding technical universe is a fantasy – an expensive one at that!

Our core business is IT.  We breathe it, live it, and run it 24x7x365.  And, we have in place both training programs and rigorous certification requirements for all our professionals.  I have to be honest and tell you though, that even we, the most dedicated and passionate about IT people, have found ourselves hard-pressed to stay ahead of the curve.  We have succeeded in part because it is an actual corporate mandate and in part because that is our core business.

Is that the answer across all businesses?  Doubtful.  In an the new and permanent age of budget cuts and belt-tightening, training and education budgets are the first to go.

We believe that the answer lies in the right mix of training and outside skill augmentation.

How do I know?

I checked with my “IT Girl:” Maria Aksentyan, our Managing Partner, IT Services.


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