I am often quite amazed at the way some individuals and sometimes, even businesses can operate with an almost complete lack of some basic knowledge around the tools they use to make money. This is especially true in IT where many customers are not knowledgeable enough to challenge their service providers.
Operating with blunt instruments
Operating an “IT” business without some knowledge of how the internet, networks, operating systems and websites operate is a bit like driving a car without knowing the rules of the road. Not impossible, but ill-advised. When these individuals or businesses hit their “ignorance wall”, they often turn to their suppliers to bail them out. This is usually at no or very low cost. This brings us to an ethical dilemma. If “A” is selling services and making money but does not have the competence to manage these services, how can “A” expect his provider “B” to provide the competence, but not pay for it?
The book of knowledge – Google
IT knowledge is so readily available in this day and age. Not doing your own bit of research is just being lazy. Most competent IT people have to research solutions anyway. The amount of IT knowledge needed is far more than any single person can keep on hand at any given moment. Take something as simple as email. There are at least 50 to 60 basic problems which can affect mail delivery. That does not even begin to include associated service failures such as DNS or network issues. Now move on to website technologies. Here you have hundreds of different website builders, thousands of plug-ins and as many “website coders/designers” as customers. I am often amazed that some websites work at all.
At Host Africa, we have to deal with each problem on a “per event” basis. When possible, we refer to our internal knowledge-base. Many issues are unique and occur very rarely. Problems that occur regularly are normally sorted out in such a way that they either do not occur again. If not, we build some form of automation to automatically detect and fix the issue until the software vendor can fix it.
Methods are often changed to avoid causing recurring issues. Infrastructure is adapted to overcome an issue. Either way, a recurring problem usually has a known solution or workaround. That is why we specialize and focus on our core areas. The problems and challenges are well known and the solutions are at hand. Offering to “fix” an issue may seem to be the “nice” thing to do. Trying to fix an issue when you lack the knowledge to do it correctly can cause even more damage.
If you have even the slightest contact with the internet, which you have if you are reading this article, please just take five to ten minutes a day to read up on the tech you are using. It may save you from that irritating “tech” guy who always acts as though you are stupid because you don’t know what an “IO Wait State” is. Surprise him with a hint of knowledge!!
Encourage your management team to become a bit more tech savvy. It may help their understanding of why the latest IT project needs 3 months and not only 3 days to complete. It will also prevent the tech-savvy guys from “bluffing” their way through the project and SCRUM meetings as many unfortunately do. At Host Africa, even our MD can set up a server and diagnose issues (and he is from a Finance background!). IT knowledge is never a waste and good problem-solving skills (which IT helps you learn) are always an asset.