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The Perils of Annoying your Techies

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I was working in an office this past week where I was reminded of all the reasons I had decided to go freelance: management were seemingly detached from the day-to-day functions of the business, none of the departments had good lines of communication, and worst of all: the techies had been relegated to an airless room and barely interacted with anyone else at all.

The dangers of ignoring or denigrating your techies was brought home to me when I read the story of David Anthony McIntosh, who knocked out a government computer system in the Northern Territories in Australia, simply because he got drunk and because he could.

Granted, David’s excuse is that he was trying to prove that the government systems were vulnerable; but the fact is that he had attempted to bring up these issues with his supervisors previously, yet they had ignored him. If he is anything like me, this would have driven him insane. It’s one thing to identify a weakness; for management to then ignore it is tantamount to saying that they don’t care.

Apparently, the damage caused by the data breach is going to cost in the region of a couple of million of (Australian) dollars to fix, and David is facing jail and the end of his career in systems administration. Yet I can’t help but feel that all of this trouble could have been prevented if his concerns had been treated with the gravity that they deserved.

Here are the facts, people: if you are a business dependent on technology, your IT staff are the gods. They may dress funny, listen to strange music and have their own little code that nobody else understands, but without them you wouldn’t have a business. They are the ones who keeps the business running, they are the ones who you look to when something goes wrong. Neglect them at your peril.

I have been lucky enough, in my career, to work closely with various IT departments. For all their esoteric customs, they are still people, and they know when they are being neglected. So if you want to avoid a situation where your company is being held to ransom, honour your geeks. You don’t want them to be angry with you.

[Image by Ségozyme]


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