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Roger Strukhoff

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Editorial: How to Keep Your Job

How to Keep Your Job

So it appears that the power of the pen is omnipotent. In this very space just a couple of months ago, the writer was heard complaining about certain aspects of a college football team, and a few short weeks later the coach of said team lost his job. Wow.

This is either a metaphorical example of the "butterfly in motion effects all events in the universe" theory, or a completely meaningless and random connection that has nothing to do with anything.

But, given that the latter scenario is most likely the correct one, it does hit on a very profound and universal truth: we can all be fired. Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM has been an industry cliché for decades, and in most cases, it probably still holds true.

But is it the primary reason for the success of IBM WebSphere in the application space? To refer back to the college football column, in which an IBM Global Services salesperson was wondering whether his company was "standing still" or not, is there anything more going on at Big Blue and among its customers other than inertia?

The answer to this question is "yes," of course, and this writer won't bother to provide the IBM PR department spin as to why. Everyone knows why IBM thinks it has been successful, and everyone also know why they think the company and its technology is working for them.

Because the truth of the matter is you can be fired for buying IBM, or certainly if you think that all you need to do is buy and let it fly. There are serious software development issues within any organization, and in a day of multiplying specifications, "standards," languages, and approaches, these issues are often apparent in an environment that requires everything to be done today, perhaps with teams dispersed throughout the world, perhaps without the unambiguous communications procedures and management controls in place that are absolutely required if one is to make any sort technology actually work.

The unlucky college football coach had most likely done everything in his mind that could have been done. One could go through all the aspects of the organization-recruiting, training, offensive and defensive strategies and tactics, special teams, nice uniforms and everything-and find that everything looked fine. But the team simply did not perform on the field as it should have for too many years' running, and it was time "to move in a new direction."

For those of us in the business world, the timeline is much shorter than several years. If our efforts do not perform as expected for one quarter (let alone a full game or many seasons), we are in danger of losing our jobs, no matter how much IBM-branded stuff is lying around the shop.

The essence of successful development is knowing how to use the tools, how to focus them onto the business problems that are at hand, and at the end of the day being sure that our competitors are not moving more quickly and more intelligently than us.

One can surmise that IBM's continued success is deeply related to the company's support of its technology, something that my new Global Services friend is focused on every day as he continues to worry that his company is not doing enough. This is the sort of spirit that will enable him to keep his job, it seems.

This is the gist of the "Does IT Matter?" argument. Certainly, it matters, but since everyone has access to the same tools it is increasingly difficult to seize and maintain that competitive advantage that is crucial to company growth and our own personal job maintenance!

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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