by Thomas Wailgum

Stupid Users Are So Stupid

Mar 31, 2010
Enterprise Applications

Too many IT staffers still loathe users, using words like "whiny" and "stupid." That routine won't work forever.

I thought I was just writing a blog about the fact that I wanted a Mac for my work—that a MacBook would allow me to be more efficient and productive at my job than my current computing device: a Windows XP-based ThinkPad that is slow, prone to catch bugs and malware, and about as exciting to use as pushing a broom in a dusty warehouse.

I wrote that I would be a happier worker. And I even cited research that Macs in the enterprise are cheaper to manage than PCs.

But, apparently, I foolishly asked for too much. Dozens of readers and those who read the article via commented that I was nothing more than another stupid user: a whiny bitch, a wanker, an idiot. (Their words.)

I was comparing Apples to Oranges (XP OS vs. Mac OS). I was ignoring Mac training issues and related costs. I was oblivious to basic encryption differences and other desktop management issues in the enterprise.

I was dubbed “just another fanboy.” I was told to “Shut the f#&k up.” My favorite response from one reader was this:

“OH LORDY LORDY THEM VIRUSES GONNA BREAK MAH COMPUTER. Because installing an anti-virus and using common sense (don’t click and install every stupid s#&t you see in the internet) is so fu#&ing hard… Then again, if you’re that stupid you shouldn’t even touch any computer at all.”

And we often wonder why users have a particular disdain for IT. We still marvel at the persistent and pervasive business-IT disconnect. We question why IT struggles to gain the respect of the business.

Instead of calling me a whiny stupid bitch, wouldn’t it have been better to engage in a business-metrics-driven discussion with me—the user—to show why my desire to have a Mac wouldn’t be cost-effective for the company? Why an upgrade to Windows 7 would be more cost-effective route and would allow for that boost in PC operational efficiency and security that I needed? (Well, a few readers did try, in their own way.)

But what I mostly got was utter contempt and condescending vitriol. It’s not that I can’t take the verbal abuse from anonymous cowards; it’s that this brand of one-way “discussion” continues to demonstrate that much work still has to be done mending the business-IT disconnect. Users are stupid. End of story.

I had valid reasons for being dismayed by my PC situation. But the response was that I was a whiny, stupid idiot.

And it’s not just a “Mac vs. PC” discussion: The same thing happens in other areas: Look at the raging debate between cloud computing versus on-premise business software inside companies today. I’ve been told numerous times by analysts and vendors that some in IT are fearful that once they lose control of their servers, for instance, they’re going to be out of a job. That fear manifests itself in many ways, but one of the most apparent is in how IT assesses today’s technology deployments and decisions: What’s good for the business versus what’s good for IT?

The organizational mantra should never be an “us” (business users) vs. “them” (IT) attitude. Today, it has be an “us” (our company, united) vs. “them” (our competitors). In this New Normal climate, IT needs to get on board and participate in business conversations about technology. Or else they will get thrown off the bus.

CIOs like CVS Caremark’s Stuart McGuigan, who I profiled recently, offer hope for the future. McGuigan says that “IT governance” is “actually business governance with IT as a component.” Nice. He says that “there’s no such thing as technology projects; they are all business projects with technology components.” Refreshing.

What a pleasant switch that is in “the conversation.”

As technologies like cloud computing become easier to deploy and manage for executives and managers, and as consumer devices continue to spread, it appears that cantankerous IT departments will likely find themselves invited to technology discussions less and less.

Who’ll be the stupid ones then?

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