by Chris Potts

Wetware’s Revenge….

Jun 26, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

When the same word suddenly spikes up in – apparently – unconnected places, we strategy types take note….

I noticed a blog entry today, on the subject of data security (not my usual area), by Philip Virgo of Computer Weekly.  Posted on 16th June 2008, it was entitled “Another day another data loss.  It’s the wetware, stupid“.  It caught my eye because just the other day The Economist published an article entitled “Computing Sustainability“, about how people can use IT to cut carbon emissions, and which observed that ‘the industry can supply the hardware and software, but the bigger problem is the “wetware” – people, economics and politics’.

Wetware.  Not a word I’ve noticed being used very often.  A search for ‘wetware’ on yields just three articles, including Thomas Wailgum’s “Luser, PEBKAC and Other Ways IT Insults Users” which notes that wetware (although it’s a word with serious roots) can be a derogatory term.  Or at least, as in the Economist, used to describe a problem – there’s another example of the “wetware problem” in a 2006 article by the Insurance and Technology IT Security Panel “Wetware in a Dangerous World”.

With collaborative computing, Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, and ongoing concerns about data security, the focus of strategic thinking about IT is now squarely on the people that use information and technology and how they create or destroy value.   One concern is whether some IT departments’ own people – also wetware, of course – can keep pace with developments in consumer technology and what people are doing with it, and articulate what it all means for the organization’s culture, politics, processes and business results (see People 2.0).

People, politics and economics – not hardware and software – are now the main IT-related issues.

A wry thought comes to mind.  For anyone who might have been tempted to talk about “Lusers” (see Thomas Wailgum’s article, mentioned above), are we now witnessing the Wetware’s revenge?