When did you last spend some serious thinking time devoted to electric motors?

Since getting up I have brushed my teeth, shaved, turned on the dishwasher, seen cars pass me on the walk to the station and boarded a train into London. All have depended on electric motors and yet for the most part we wouldn’t give that fact a second thought. A first thought, even.

Electric motors are fundamental to modern living, yet as a technology they have become invisible. Invisible ubiquity is the point at which technology has truly been adopted.

I’m reminded of this when I look at where we currently stand with the development of information technology within organisations. We talk about it all the bloody time. And whilst the term “computer” might not be as bandied around as it used to be, the focus still in our businesses tends to focus on the things not the utility. Even when the things become ethereal into the realm of the Cloud.

In many cases now, though, we don’t think about the computers that have become embedded in our lives. The microprocessors in the toothbrush, shaver and dishwasher that I used on my journey out this morning are invisible to me, yet they are computer-based devices one and all. Probably with more computing power than… well, the toothbrush I had as a kid, that’s for sure.

I hear from a lot of people managing information technology in organisations. Many are hell-bent on invisible ubiquity even if they don’t express it quite like that. However, for far too many the focus is still on calling out the very things that they should be trying to make transparent.

So what would an invisible ubiquity approach look like? What would, to coin a phrase, #noIT be?

Well, you wouldn’t bother with all of the nonsense of providing everybody with in your organisation with a device any more than you would think about providing everybody in your organisation with clothes. Sure, some people need a company uniform. Some also need a company device. But for the most part, bring your own. Pay people well enough so they don’t begrudge it – they’ll be happier in the long term.

You’ll probably need to provide some sort of identity service. We are a long way from there being a single identifier that can be relied upon for providing reliable access to the people who should have it. Having said that, a Google or Facebook ID isn’t far off these days.

There will be some software. You’ll probably need some sort of finance software, Make it Cloud-based. Ditto for people management. And for CRM, if you really have to. If you’ve got legacy systems find out a way to get them delivered via the web to a browser. Remember you don’t control any of the devices people use any more. Maybe that will help you get rid of some of them.

If that sounds scary, remember that the Internet and consumer technology works perfectly well for people to run their lives doing complex interactions and transactions without constantly having to phone up IT because things are broken.

Fanciful stuff, eh? Utterly impractical for a “proper” business, no?

No. Just a stretch goal.

In the way that thinking, say, moving your business to a Cloud-based office suite in 2018 really shouldn’t be.

Computers should be like electric motors. Increasingly it’s only in enterprise IT where that’s not the case.

2 thoughts on “#noIT

  1. I think the role of the “computer” (device?) in these contexts is more as a tool than a commodity.

    Knowledge workers especially expect that their employer will own the things they produce and expect to be provided with the tools to produce them. Paper is a commodity in my personal life but when I’m at work I expect my employer to provide all the notebooks that I need (although I often provide my own pen for my own comfort).

    Maybe we’ll see that continue: I’ll provide the things that bridge the brain / physical interface (pens, and keyboards / editors) and the employer will provide the places to put the outputs (notebooks, web tools).

    The laptop / tablet is a strange beast tho’. It’s very different from the world envisaged 10 years ago where computers would be part of the desk (provided by the employer) and then people would attach those computers to their virtual desktop environments in the cloud as they moved around from desk to desk. The “device” is much more personal than that; much more on the other side of the brain / physical device.

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