Every employee is now an IT employee, to some degree

Every employee is now an IT employee, to some degree

Summary: Members of Generation Y know and love computers as much as any IT professional. (Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are getting more tech savvy as well.) Time to amp up the game.

TOPICS: Google

Are we reaching a point in which members of the corporate workforce are almost as tech-savvy as IT professionals themselves? The experiences of Google's CIO may be instructive.

IT worker-By Michael Krigsman
Photo credit: Michael Krigsman

Walter Frick of The Harvard Business Review recently spoke with Google CIO Ben Fried about what it takes to run the technology that supports one of the world's biggest tech operations. While his enterprise is still somewhat unique -- just about every employee has highly advanced computing skills -- the rest of the world is rapidly catching up, he says.

Blame it on Generation Y -- today's 20-somethings. As Fried put it, within any workforce that has a heavy contigent of under-30 employees, "make sure that that daily impression, that first impression they get of IT, is a good impression."

To meet an increasingly tech-savvy workforce, IT departments will need to amp up their game. "You have to have IT people who are more knowledgeable about the technology and the best ways to use it than the average employee," he adds. "In the future, that kind of thinking is going to differentiate great IT departments from good IT departments."

To do this, Fried says, enterprises and IT executives need to pay more attention to workplace technologies -- devices, laptops, and front-end applications -- start seeing them as strategic technologies to the business. Because nowadays, end-user technologies are strategic to the business. "I see a lot of CIOs spending a lot of time — which is very important to do — on major business initiatives," he says. "But I often see an inadequate amount of time spent where the day-to-day, most frequent touchpoints are."

IT departments need to be well-trained and knowledgeable on end-user technologies, he adds. If a company has a low-budget, ill-trained tech support function, it will be readily apparent to users.


Topic: Google

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  • If anything it's the opposite...

    I'd say that if anything, the opposite is true. Back in the day when you had to hack the Windows registry to get your games running right, and getting other programs to run correctly depended on memory tweaks, BIOS settings and resolving IRQ conflicts there was a class of user who was likely jut as saavy as your IT pros. These days, however, everything is plug and play, and idiot-proof Post-PC devices are taking hold in the marketplace, you're more likely to find users who are comfortable using a computer but perfectly clueless when it comes to fixing problems when they do arise.
    • Correct.

      They only THINK they know what they are doing.

      Can't begin to tell you how many times I have had to clean up after one of these "experts".
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    • Agreed.

      However working with computers is only going to get even easier, advanced troubleshooting is going to be needed less and less.
    • Exactly

      that was what I was thinking as I read the article.

      Even in IT related jobs, such as programming, where you would expect people to be IT savvy, that just isn't the case. They can code SAP routines to the cows come home, but get them to discuss networking issues, hardware issues, PC configuration issues, they look at you as if you are speaking a foreign language!

      Obviously that isn't all programmers, there are plenty out there who do take an interest in IT, as opposed to just coding. But it is surprising the number of "IT professionals" who can't tell their TCP/IP from their elbow!
  • LOL

    Yep, before that everybody was a salesman too. I guess if your far enough removed from reality everything looks like a nail.
  • Ridiculous claim!

    I don't know how to text or upload a video to YouTube.

    But I CAN build a computer from discrete parts, troubleshoot hardware problems (I worked as an electronic tech for 10 years), design relational database applications (in the 1980's I built an entire law office management system for a collection practice, including all the billing, accounting, document generation and court calendaring), write programs and scripts in a number of languages, etc.

    Let's see your average Gen-Y do THOSE things that are REAL IT activities.
  • I have to agree with the majority here.

    As we see it, there are many things in which the corporate employee has evolved over time, however it is this way in perception in most cases. The average user is less knowledgeable in some of the basics then ever before and greater in others. Also security and stability are at an all time low, for many reasons in todays environment, but one I truly believe is the high paced evolution of the end user and the push from executives to match what they see on the consumer market. This causes IT departments to try to keep pace with an insecure an too quick of a pace environment for a corporate structure to maintain. (Not to mention we are all trying to do this on a diminishing budget and outsourcing.)