There was a ruckus earlier between me and ICT.
There was an “engagement exercise” where they came to my floor on a specific day and time, for us to “see how they work” and for them to give us “tips and tricks” and to talk about any “issues“.
I have one, only one. Why when I come to work is the ICT at work much MUCH worse than what I bought myself for probably cheaper at home? Why do I have better hardware and software (FREE!) in my trouser pocket? The thing I hold in my palm right now as I type this.
It started off amicably enough. I broached the subject with “why do we have a version of Internet Explorer that is 10 years old, and is the worst browser in the modern era?”. He laughed. Then “Why do we have the worst email client that nobody in their personal life uses?” and so on.
And for every “why” there was a reason why this was an entirely unreasonable request and once he had explained “why” I SHOULD see how lucky we are to have anything at all.
So I mention how Word freezes regularly telling me (and loads of other people too, it happens to everyone) that “Changes have been made that affect the global template, Normal.dot.” and did I want to save these changes? The response was so , “well that happens when you open up word documents from outside the council. Do you open up word docs from unknown places?” see how “outside the council” is conflated with a security threat? How a policy document from an other branch of central government is actually a threat to ICT security and I am GAMBLING WITH PEOPLES LIVES? Rather than what it really is, a flaw that predictably disrupts the user from doing their job.
I announce to him that I am beginning to outsource my ICT needs to much better providers. I have not put anything out to tender, I am flagrantly breaching the usual procurement processes. I’m just doing it. And it isn’t costing the Council a penny.
I use Google docs for documents that I am working on alone.
I use the fantastically beautiful Mural.ly for planning work.
I use my phone for loads of tasks that my block of a PC can’t do, or the software in it won’t do.
When announced, the response is of course that I AM GAMBLING WITH PEOPLE’S LIVES.
THIS IS A POTENTIAL BREACH OF ICT SECURITY! I ask why, because he does not know what is on these documents, and I do. He says ITS A RISK. That only software that has been “100% tested” is allowed. Since I cannot vouch for Google docs, or their phone the Nexus 4, those disreputable Google fly-by-nights, I AM GAMBLING WITH PEOPLE’S LIVES.
I ask “but there’s nothing that is 100% safe. The email client and internet browser we use is notorious for being buggy and hackable.”. This has no truck.
I say “can you see WHY I would do these things? Because the ICT we have here doesn’t serve my needs? That it is ICT who have created this situation where people have to do workarounds?”
I say the computers are old, they literally creak. I can hear a colleagues whining and wheezing from about 12 feet away.
He explains how they buy the kit in bulk, at the “VERY BEST PRICES” with large ICT vendors to ensure value for money. But this takes years. Is this why I have old out of date rubbish?
I cite a colleague with a need for a faster computer as he was doing GIS mapping work.
He had been waiting months for ICT to buy and fit a small graphics card. He could have gone out at lunchtime and bought one for half the cost and fitted it himself in ten minutes.
The ICT man says if he had he would have been sacked.
I said I was glad I only am an office drone who only needs word processing and carried out light spreadsheet dutries, I couldn’t imagine how dreadful it would be being tied to a social care IT system or a Housing Benefits system that stopped me doing my job and made customers lives worse. He said it wasn’t “as simple as that”.
I explained how I use anything OTHER than Word whenever I can, moving onto Google docs wherever possible. Raised eyebrows, I’m clearly bonkers, despite NOBODY ON EARTH having a good thing to say about Word. No matter how thoroughly it’s been tested. This testing seems to be something that must benefit the ICT industry because it sure doesn’t benefit me if this crud gets through.
“Well actually if YOU were to ask any of the big providers to integrate their systems with Google docs I think youd find theyd tell you where to go”. Well use a small provider then! The big ones are clearly rubbish!
There are always reasons why something can’t be done. I’m not interested in why. I only care that it isn’t.
Any encounter with corporate services dismays me. These are the rules, this is how it works, etc. No idea that it could be different, and despite touting the word “customer”, they know best.
What is the thinking? Manage and control costs. You can’t trust people. Consistency rules. Experts in one area know better than the users in another. All that thinking slows you down and stops you from doing your job. If you were a social worker, it could be serious. As a drone it’s just annoying.
I’ve began to leave corporate ICT services wherever I can to free and better online services. I’m no ICT expert, but I know what works for me and what doesn’t. Am I the first in my organisation? Surely not, and I bet there’s similar in other organisations. ICT services are already dead, they just haven’t been buried yet.
All it takes is a new chief executive who questions why they get a better service from the phone in their pocket than the ICT service that costs millions.
I have a message for you, ICT.
You’re not in the ICT business you joined. You’re competing against the best in the world now and you’re losing.
You have an advantage that you’re squandering. You are based on site with your customers, and you’re ignoring them. Give it long enough and they’ll be ignoring you right back.
About a third of the people who follow this blog or the twitter feed seem to be ICT people.
I’m grateful and constantly surprised that any one does, but given my regular diatribes about the vileness of ICT services and projects, I wonder what they think?
Tell me in the comments please.