TechMentor Keynote Lays Out IT Best Practices
IT support teams can take a lesson from consumer grumblings about the commercial airline industry, says one keynote speaker at TechMentor Las Vegas.
- By Kurt Mackie
- October 14, 2008
IT support teams can take a lesson from
consumer grumblings about the commercial airline industry, according
to Tuesday's keynote talk at TechMentor
an 1105 Media educational and professional event being held this week
in Las Vegas. The speakers, authors Greg Shields and Don Jones of
, found lots to compare, especially with apparent
declining service levels in both fields.
The keynote's humorous conclusion was
summed up in its title, "Don't be an Airline: How To Succeed at
Your IT Job Without Being Hated."
The crowd of IT pros could relate to
the metaphor. A show of hands indicated that most had got to Las
Vegas by plane. When asked if their airline experience was "good,"
few raised their hands.
The airlines, faced with rising fuel
costs, have resorted to making people pay extra for services that
used to be part of the overall fare. Jones noted a principle there
for IT support: be careful of taking things away from people. That
principle also applies to taking things off the desktop. Locking down
apps may satisfy IT, but that's the wrong approach. Look to meet user
needs first. IT's needs should come second.
"If you have to take something away,
find an upside," Jones said. He suggested at least providing users
with a forum to complain about it.
The "nickel and diming" of the
airlines, while deplorable, does have an IT equivalent, Shields said.
"Has anyone worked with a consultant?" Shields rhetorically
Jones noted that the IT help desk "gets
beat on the head all day." Sometimes, though, they can be their own
worst enemies. For instance, it's bad policy for IT to be
inconsistent on the rules. Being too accommodating can be a bad idea
in the long run. For instance, providing home drives to users, while
nice, can lead to potential new maintenance tasks to fulfill down the
Plan ahead to anticipate shortages of
resources. Develop proposals for those who fund your projects,
anticipating future needs, Shields explained. Don't be like an
airline that runs out of jet fuel. Hedge your bets to make sure
you've planned for contingencies at the help desk, Jones added.
Shields advised against lying when
there's a lack of information about the problem. "Don't give out
any information you don't have," he said. "All you're doing is
postponing and nurturing a grudge."
Jones noted that the failings of IT
often are a matter of perspective. Bad service just engenders bad
feelings -- it's the same with IT as it is with airline services.
"We hate how the airlines treat us,
and then we go home and do the same things," Jones told the IT tech
crowd. "Don't forget how you feel when you're the customer."
Shields noted that IT is stuck between
the CEOs and the end users. Nonetheless, IT needs to stay focused on
its principal objective, which is to further the goals of the
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.