Tuesday, February 27, 2007


IT and Society

I have always found it curious to work in an industry where we have an estimated failure rate of 50% yet we get paid more than many doctors, teachers, accountants or other professions where failure is not tolerated...

Working in an IT organization is easy but becoming an IT professional is more difficult. During the dot-com era, we let graphics artists into the IT organization which helped inflate their salaries. Likewise, Project Management whenever it resides within IT, the salaries tend to be higher than when it resides outside of IT. The funny thing is that the discipline of project management really isn't all that different regardless of being applied to IT, the building tract houses in construction or even managing a multi-faceted marketing campaign.

Early IT folks have managed to trick the rest of society into paying more than what its output is worth. I have heard enterprise architects in other shops perform a ceremony where they appease the business side of the house and appear subservant to business folks who while having more power actually make less than them.

The one thing that I have figured out is that there are simply way too many folks doing software development which results in creating way too little economic or social value which results in being highly compensated for doing pretty much nothing of value. Likewise, there are a lot of folks who produce a lot of value who are on par in terms of compensation with those who don't.

Would our profession be better served if we could discover the correlation between output value (productivity) and the recompense of the range of salaries of IT professionals? No, I am not advocating that we find our justification in the fact that there are folks worse than us. We need to as a profession figure out how IT needs to evolve so that we can produce a dramatic shift in the value we bring to the table.

I have always wondered if aligning with the business is the right mantra. I guess the problem I have with this phrase is that the business for the most part stays stationary while IT does all the changing. If we were to acknowledge for a second that the vast majority of business folk are fundamentally uneducated about the basic facts of IT and we were to figure out how to get them to align with us more in the know, could this then be the stimulus for providing better correlation between output value and compensation.

IT enables capitalism yet prevents it in the same breath. We will all rant if the top 1% of all Americans become even richer while the majority languishes in relative poverty without really understanding the forces at hand. Would it be good if IT were to maximize its efficiency so as to create an upper eschelon or would this be evil?

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