IT Hierarchy of Needs

Phil Windley, listed in Network World’s top 10 weblogs, writes:

If you haven’t seen the IT hierarchy of needs before, the idea is pretty simply. There are some problems you have to solve before you even become aware of or appreciate the scope of other problems. The bottom level is called “base infrastructure” and includes things like desktops, networks, etc.–the stuff that it takes to just make the enterprise go everyday. At the top is “business processes” meaning automation of and support for business activities.

The problem is that while most CEOs are screaming for the top two or three levels of the hierarchy, most IT shops are struggling with the realities of the bottom three. Everyone ignores data.

Take another look at the hierarchy and ask yourself which of those tasks can be outsourced (off-shore or not). That’s right, the bottom levels. You can’t outsource the top levels of the hierarchy.

What’s getting outsourced? The IT equivalent of coal mining jobs. My undergraduate degree is in metallurgical engineering and I’ve spent some time in mines. Its dirty, but high paying work that doesn’t require much formal education. People love it. But its also subject to lots of ups and downs and over the years had steadily declined.

My prediction is that while hundreds of thousands of IT jobs will go off-shore in the next decade, we’ll gain more than we lose as we move up the hierarchy. We do a poor job of meeting demands at the top of the hierarchy and there’s plenty of work to do. When you think about the real problems that IT should be solving, its amazing how little attention we pay to them. Our goal ought to be to provide every employee with the information they need to do their job when they need it. Instead, we throw an email client and a word processor at them and say “good luck.” We can do better and the first step is to embrace the changes that are required to solve the problems at the bottom of the hierarchy—even if that means some pain in the short term.

Dan Gillmor’s Favourite Gadgets

Dan Gillmor picks his two gadgets for 2003: the Treo 600 from Handspring and Sony’s CyberShot DSC-T1 digital camera. Here is what he says:

Treo 600: “There have been other blends of mobile phone, personal organizer and online access, but none has achieved such an ideal blend…[It] has cracked the code for multifunction mobile devices.”

Cybershot: “It’s one of the new generation of so-called “credit-card” sized models. Actually it’s more like a small, thin deck of cards…But what a deck: The camera has a 5-megapixel resolution, which is more than good enough for anything I’m likely to do anytime soon. It takes 30-frames-per-second MPEG videos. There’s a 3X optical zoom. The LCD display is large, bright and clear. Battery life isn’t great, but the batteries are removable and can be recharged quickly.”

Asian Internet Usage

Asia Times summarises the findings of a report from eMarketer:

By the time 2003 is out, according to the report, “Asia-Pacific Online”, Internet use in China will have nearly doubled to 114 million people online. In just two more years, 250 million Chinese are expected to be accessing the Internet. In South Korea, nearly 59 percent of the population is to be using the Internet by the end of this year. India’s cellular telephone industry is adding 120,000 subscribers monthly and passed the 3 million mark in June. While in a country of 1 billion people that represents scant penetration, it indicates vast potential.

What is particularly striking is the pace at which Asia is switching to broadband, which allows for much more extensive graphics use, and which enhances commercial appeal for online advertisers. By the end of the year, broadband usage is expected to grow by 25 percent, to 18 million subscribers. A startling 94 percent of Korean Internet users will have broadband connections by that time.