Re: Why can’t we all just get along? (July 15)

You hit the nail on the head your soft skills in IT series. I was an IT technical support analyst supporting a Workplace Safety and Insurance

Board regional office of 175 clients by myself. Educating your end users about IT’s responsibilities along with service level agreements with management is key to avoiding misunderstandings and putting out fires.

The moral of this story is that a little soft skills goes a long way if you really want to make a difference and take pride in your work. You will be noticed.

Bob Skoretz

Re: Why can’t we all just get along? (July 15)

In reading Mr. Sutton’s article, it is quickly apparent that both he and his example IT managers are most likely creating division in the ranks far more than they are addressing it. Ms. Santos is quoted labeling highly technical IT staff as “”the Linux secret society who don’t want to see daylight.””

IT, IT security and Internet working in particular are professions demanding education, experience and expertise on an order far higher than many other positions in an organization. Industry trends and technologies change at a rate incomprehensible to other professions. Imagine lawyers who could deal with complete re-writes of the criminal code every six months, or changing from a common law-based system to another new legal system every year.

Dealing with the pace of change in technology, while keeping the details hidden from users so they do not notice a protocol change in networking, or a new e-mail virus security policy is challenging. So challenging in fact that it demands a level of concentration and focus that precludes becoming an expert sociologist.

My family has produced lawyers at the partnership level of national firms, as well as IT professionals – and it is very obvious which profession demands more constant re-education and learning. It is also very apparent which profession gets away with abusive, demanding interpersonal skills. Television’s “”The Associates”” and the ilk are a Sesame Street representation of what ladder-climbing combat is when people are on the partnership track in a law firm.

My point is simple. All excellence and expertise in a profession, be it legal, medical or information technology requires a level of focus, concentration and dedication that by it’s nature reduces the amount of time available to chit chat, socialize and discuss off-topic issues. In addition to the lack of time, there is an education and vocabulary gap that can not be bridged by trite semantic simplification. Top level IT staff can not hold meaningful conversations about their areas of expertise with other professionals, because they do not share the same vocabularies, the same experience and the same years of accumulated knowledge.

My major client is a national medical organization – and in my particular role and area of expertise (information security, Internet communications) I am sheltered from the general user population. Not by my personal choice, but out of good IT management.

I work with an enlightened IT manager who realizes that our organization’s constituents do need direct contact with excellent “”user-communicators”” – and it also needs real technical expertise “”underneath the hood”” to make things work well. Using me or one of my colleagues to answer a help desk call is a waste of time and resources, while asking a general help desk person to build a secure national Internet-based Web facility with dynamic content generation is equally a waste of time.

Many general business management people think that information technology is simple, and expertise is easy to acquire and available. It isn’t. It may be simple when providing networked LAN word processing stations to legal assistants, but not where I work. Just as one of the medical expert constituents in my organization would shudder at me picking up a scalpel for home surgery, I equally shudder (albeit internally) at advice offered to me by someone with less experience and skill at my profession.

Although the article in question does make one good point – information technology support staff should be able to understand their organizational role, it ignores the reality that most organization also have real development, security and network management roles which by their nature are different roles than considered in the article.

Bill Strosberg

Re: It’s a small show after all (July 11)

I’ve been going to Comdex on and off for eight years and this year’s show was definitely its lowest point ever. The lack of large players, the emphasis on enterprise solutions, no real attempt to address the small and medium business market, no major software vendors, etc. The high point was Palm’s booth, but even there it dealt mostly with wireless communications. I pine for the days of Vardex, where it was only dealers and no public. I brought my co-op student to show her what trade shows were like and she was vastly disappointed. I think it’s my last.

Ray Mayer
The Home Office Place

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