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6 dirty secrets of the IT industry

Dan Tynan | Oct. 29, 2013
IT pros blow the whistle on the less-than-white lies and dark sides of the tech business

The purpose of the official procurement process is to make it harder for employees to spend the company's money, says Meikle — unless, of course, they know the secret handshake. Unfortunately, he adds, the CIO is usually not a member of this club, which means large tech purchases can be made without serious cost benefit analysis or consideration of IT's strategic vision. 

"They'll go out to lunch, a vendor will whisper sweet nothings in their ear, and the next thing you know they've spent half a million on a mobile application management solution, not realizing you already had one," he says. "Now you have two."

Not so, contends a private consultant to the military and Fortune 100 companies who asked to remain unnamed. While there are cases where organizations may bypass standard procurement procedures, it's almost always for something the IT department needs right away and doesn't want to waste weeks cutting through red tape to get it, he says.

"Nontechnology executives don't know enough about IT to make a large purchase decision," he adds. "If a senior executive circumvents the procurement process, that purchase order has to have a signature on it before the supplier will ship it. If anything goes wrong with that technology, the executive would be accountable and traceable. That's like kryptonite to those guys." 

Dirty IT secret No. 5: You're getting the short end of the customer support stick
That technician is just another script kiddie

Stop us if this sounds familiar: You're on the phone with a support technician halfway around the globe, but you get the distinct impression they know less than you do and are just reading from a script. Guess what? They probably are.

"IT support is a cheap commodity," says Tim Singleton, president of Strive Technology Consulting, a boutique support firm catering to small and midsized businesses. "Tools that do most of it for you are free, and computers require less knowledge now than they used to. Your neighbor's daughter or the tech-savvy guy in accounting can probably fix your computer as well as any IT company."

But some say that assessment is too broad. While that may be true for the simplest problems, it's not true for more complex ones, notes Aramis Alvarez, SVP of services and support at Bomgar, which makes remote IT support solutions for enterprises.

"The problem with calling IT support a 'cheap commodity' is that not every problem is created equal," says Alvarez. "Some basic issues can be diagnosed by any tech-savvy person, but difficult ones, such as viruses, cannot. Your neighbor's daughter may be armed with enough knowledge to be dangerous, but she could end up destroying the data on your computer."


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