The High Cost of Ostrich Feathers and IIABDFI


Susan Ellsworth


Back on February 1, 2010, Dan Tynan at InfoWorld wrote about “The technology pro’s greatest enemies.” While that article and similar others provide catharsis for those of us who labor in the tech field, there is some wisdom for the rest of us in his “the six most nefarious adversaries of IT.”

In his article, Tynan talked about “bosses who bury their heads in the sand when it comes to technology, yet are still empowered to make critical IT decisions.” Here’s my classic example: the business owner, when told by an IT staff person that configuring a “souped up” workstation as a server is a bad idea. The business owner, motivated by short-term penny pinching, threatens to fire the IT tech who then caves in and installs server software on a workstation. The workstation, never intended to provide networking service to dozens of users at a time, is less efficient than a server. The result: an unhappy, less than fully-productive user community. Meanwhile, the Ostrich, who works 100% of his time on a smart phone, never experiences what everyone else does.  And never figures out why everyone is complaining.

Then there is my personal favorite:the If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It crowd.  The problem here is that just like human beings, technology wears down with time. And just like human beings who refuse to adapt to new realities (a gentleman I used to know, for example, who refused to learn how to use a bank ATM or a microwave oven), computing hardware which is not updated does not work well with newer software applications. Some applications simply will not install on older machines, but until beaten to a business pulp against the tide of technology, the IIABDFI manager refuses to update to current technology. And then pushes on the provider of technology to upgrade only to a level that is no longer supported by anyone earning an honest buck in the trade…but just might be found for pennies on eBay.

The sad thing is that both the Ostrich and IIABDFI fail to recognize that the longer they put off upgrading, the dramatically fewer resources from which they will be able to receive technical support. The Tech flavor of Murphy’s Law says that the need for technical support will arrive just at a critical business moment. And Ostrich/IIABDFI will discover not only the expense of upgrading to current technology just when funds had been committed elsewhere but also the cost of downtime. We favor front-end planning.


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