IT’s Seven Worst Addictions (And How To Cure Them)

Dan Tynen wrote an interesting article in InfoWorld on IT’s worst addictions. I want to share an excerpt of this article with you. Please read the full article if you can spare the time.

Devoting my business life to interpret between IT and business (and the rest of mankind) I can only agree with what he says about jargon, power, data, old methods and some of the other addictions and delusions:

College Student in front of computer

IT Addictions. Image at

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Are you a jargon junkie? Got an insatiable appetite for information? Do you rule over your company’s systems with an iron fist, unwilling to yield control until someone pries the keyboard from your cold, dead hands?

You’re going to have to face it — you’re addicted to tech. It’s not an uncommon problem, but it can lead to bad decisions, lost productivity, wasted money, and data breaches, to name just a few downsides.

Fortunately, there are cures. But first you must admit you are powerless over your addiction to acronyms, your dependence on data, and your cravings for power. You must resist the illusion you can make your network perfectly secure or that technology can solve all your problems. And you must stop clinging to old ways of doing things — or lusting for anything shiny and new.

Consider this your first step on the long road to recovery.

IT addiction no. 1: Jargon
Geeks love their jargon. It’s a way to show off, not to mention an effective technique for fooling others into thinking you know more than you actually do. But an acronym addiction ultimately serves no one well, says Glenn Phillips, president of Forte, which builds custom software and offers “nerd-to-English” translation coaching for executives.

The cure: Smart IT pros know good communication skills are essential, and they work hard to develop those skills, says Phillips. But executives must also be willing to admit they don’t have the slightest idea what their techs are telling them.

IT addiction no. 2: Power
A little power can be a dangerous thing, as any organization that has endured a rogue system administrator can tell you. Because technology is both so central to how modern organizations operate and so poorly understood by those outside the IT department, it’s easy for tech whizzes to perpetuate their own internal fiefdoms. As a result, IT pros often forget they exist to support the business, not the other way around, says Forte’s Phillips. “Using a computer should be easier than not using one, but too many IT professionals have created private little kingdoms that make that hard or impossible,” he says.

The cure: The tendency to consolidate power is not exclusive to IT professionals, notes Jeffrey Palermo, president and COO of Headspring, a custom software development and consulting firm. But it may happen more often in IT because that’s where technology decisions and resources are usually centralized.

IT addiction no. 3: Data
Blame impossibly cheap storage or the magical belief that big data will revolutionize your company, but many IT pros are unrepentant information junkies — and that can lead to data overload, or worse. Collecting too much data not only makes it harder to reach decisions, it also increases the risk of damage caused by data leaks.

The cure: IT needs to look more selectively at the data it collects and retains.

IT addiction no. 4: Old methods
It’s natural to fall back on the techniques you know best. But if you’re still clinging to the methodologies you were using 5, 10, or 20 years ago, you have a monkey on your back — and it has a gray muzzle. For example, software developers who cling to waterfall methodologies or structured design techniques can end up creating software that’s obsolete before it’s even implemented, or pouring valuable resources into creating documentation no one else will ever read.

The cure: Get agile. Adopt modern methodologies like extreme programming or behavior-driven design. Develop an understanding of the underlying business processes so that you can communicate intelligently with the people who have to use what you build.

IT addiction no. 5: New machines
Everybody loves new toys. For most techies, strolling through a data center full of gleaming servers, humming drives, and blinking lights is like waking up on Christmas morning. But having the latest and greatest of everything is a costly fixation that can drag you and your organization down the money hole.

The cure: Most IT pros are fixated on initial purchase price when they should be analyzing total cost of ownership, says Howard. A hard look at real costs may help curb their addiction to the latest and greatest of everything.

IT addiction no. 6: Illusions of security
In an age when hackers make headlines almost daily, it’s easy to see why many enterprise IT shops have developed a serious security habit. The problem? You can pour millions into building a “bulletproof” network, only to discover that it isn’t — and never will be.

The cure: Embrace the reality that no network or organization can ever be 100 percent secure. Close the security gap through traceability.

IT addiction no. 7: Delusions of grandeur
Call it the myth of omnipotence. Technology has progressed at such an astounding rate that many become addicted to the notion that anything is possible — no trade-offs or sacrifices required.

The cure: Get real. Develop an IT portfolio that balances risk and reward, and hedge your big bets. Don’t swing for the fences every time unless you enjoy striking out. It’s better to hit for singles and doubles to boost your enterprise batting average instead of going for personal glory.

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What are your experiences — where do you see the main hurdles between IT and business? Would you mind to share some of your experiences and opinions?

About Hellmuth Broda

Independent Information and Communications Technology Strategist with an interest in the construction sites between business, society and technology.
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1 Response to IT’s Seven Worst Addictions (And How To Cure Them)

  1. Pingback: Internet And Smartphone Addiction « Pondering Technology

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