Perceptions of IT (It can take two!)

August 27, 2009

I know, I know! Too often there is a poor perception of the IT function, staff, or service providers in our SME businesses.

And as Michael Hugos at points out, the IT staff often contribute to this negative perception!

While there are a dozen ways that your IT staff or provider can shoot themselves in the foot this way, often this perception of IT can be created and re-enforced through jargon laced techno-babble, poor communication and circular logic on the complexity that makes up IT.

Mr. Hugos brings up two great questions for IT leaders;

How can we in IT more actively include people in discussions about possible solutions? How can we more actively include them in implementing these solutions?

But It Can Take Two!

IT must clean up its own image, and must be seen as contributing to solutions, not as being a roadblock to them. I agree with that 100%.

However, I also think that in many cases managers and executives in the small to medium business can also be unintentionally contributing to this negative perception about their IT function.


Simple; they do this by keeping IT as invisible as servants in a medieval castle.

Keeping your IT staff invisible, and locked outside the doors of any communication and conversation about goals and strategy truly leaves your IT team in the dark about methods of collaboration that can contribute to working solutions.

A second issue for many senior managers at SME’s is that too often we can fail to take the trouble to even help ourselves when it comes to technology. This leaves open risks, and an unwillingness to acknowledge the pros and cons of what technology can, (or cannot) do for our business.

Self Inflicted Wounds

In a conversation a few months ago, the owner of a small business that provides technical and IT support for other small businesses told me that he had just fired a customer, and that he was the third IT provider to fire this customer!

Apparently this customer consistently and repeatedly called with angry, accusatory complaints about difficulties on their business network and business computers.

Yet for the vendors, the problem was always the same.

In spite of repeated warnings, and having the newest anti-virus and firewall software installed on their network PC’s, this SMB owner never let them operate properly, secondly he would bring his kids into the office on weekends and let them use other PC’s in the office to play with.

And play they did.

After every abusive , screaming support call, the service provider found the affected PC to be riddled with viruses and spy ware from the kids playing on business PC’s.

This business owner then would be yelling at his service providers. His attitude was that he should never have problems in spite of his own irresponsibility.

The SMB Takeaway

As Michael Hugos states, yes IT must help themselves be seen as a source of answers, not a source of frustration.

But at the same time, you cannot leave your IT team or provider stuck behind the 8 ball either.

Stuck Behind the 8 Ball?

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Photo Credit: 60 in 3 via flickr


5 Responses to “Perceptions of IT (It can take two!)”

  1. […] In this previous post, I wrote about a small business owner that was fired by three network support vendors. […]

  2. The SME SEO Says:

    erm… ” often this perception of IT can be created and re-enforced through jargon laced techno-babble, poor communication and circular logic on the complexity that makes up IT.”… I have no idea what you said just then. Talking a different language from the end-user, think that could be a problem?


    • elliotross Says:

      You worded that perfectly!

      That is exactly – exactly correct!

      And that is how easy it is to fail

      Thank you so much for dropping by!



  3. elliotross Says:

    Thank you for dropping by!

    15% – I see that all of us need to be working on this.

  4. itorganization2017 Says:

    Great points, Elliot as usual! I find that the IT organization perception problem (and it’s double-headed nature) is by no means limited to SMB’s.

    I see this is as something of a struggle even in very large businesses – only those with the higher levels of business-IT maturity (probably 15% of all large-company IT shops) seem to have got substantially past the mutual frustrations and disconnects you refer to.

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