Sept. 19 is National IT Professionals Day, which got off the ground two years ago as a way to recognize and celebrate all the work, worry and downright wacky things that happen to IT professionals. For chief information security officers (CISOs), the event offers a chance to step back, take a hard look at teams and give credit where credit is due. With the increasingly volatile threat landscape and the ongoing cybersecurity skills shortage, National IT Professionals Day demonstrates the growing need to make sure technology professionals know they’re valued, appreciated and essential to the long-term success of enterprises.
IT Is No Easy Task
IT professionals have a difficult job, and while the commercialization of technology has helped smooth out some basic technology issues, the ubiquity of mobile devices and cloud computing have created problems of their own. What happens when users attempt to link personal devices with corporate networks or access cloud services that fall outside network security structures?
It’s no surprise that overall IT stress is on the rise as responsibilities diversify and user expectations increase. According to a Lieberman Software report, 74 percent of IT professionals surveyed said they worked at least some unpaid overtime each week, with 34 percent working more than 15 extra hours per week. Network complexity and downtime are largely to blame: A Veriflow survey found that 59 percent of respondents said that as networks expand, the number of outages increase. Additionally, 97 percent pointed to “human factors” as a prime cause of network issues.
Consider more specific cases: According to Baseline, yearly events such as March Madness put a strain on corporate networks, with 81 percent of IT professionals spending more time monitoring network and app performance to ensure that day-to-day operations aren’t interrupted. This includes deprioritizing apps and videos related to games (39 percent), limiting employee access to March Madness content (34 percent), and coming in early or staying late (36 percent).
Add in the need for ongoing tech support, and it’s no surprise that National IT Professionals Day is gaining ground. A recent video from The Bitter IT Guy suggested a “Star Trek”-type future where, despite advanced computer technology, users still need help with very specific requests and basic tasks.
The Lighter Side of IT
Of course, IT professionals have a lighter side, too. Given the wacky requests and issues that reach their desks every day, a strong sense of humor goes a long way for IT employees. From the funny to the frustrating, staffers must deal with nightmare IT scenarios virtually every day, such as:
- The school district IT manager who mentioned to a new recruit that he should consider installing a new server application, only to have the tech attempt a new server install on his own and wipe 10 production servers;
- The user who couldn’t figure out why a PC wouldn’t turn on, only to have IT professionals discover an entire cup of water had been spilled onto the desktop;
- The user who, when told to make copies of her floppy disk for a backup, created a stack of photocopied images of the disk itself; and
- The staff member who, after a step-by-step walkthrough to identify problems with his faulty monitor, revealed that there was no monitor on the desk — someone else had moved it.
The scenarios above illustrate the saintly patience of IT professionals who must endure endless vendor calls while occasionally clashing with the C-suite over what should be simple, straightforward tasks but end up being long, drawn-out and complex affairs.
Recognizing Resiliency on National IT Professionals Day
IT professionals are a unique breed. They’re not always the most social staff members, and what they perceive as simple or obvious isn’t always so straightforward to other employees. As a result, they may come off as irritable or abrasive, especially when it comes to technical support questions or business-based limits on their autonomy.
But IT departments are now critical for line-of-business objectives. Companies can’t get anywhere without the cloud, mobile devices and analytics and, no matter how much automation and outsourcing an enterprise adopts, there’s still a need for local, loyal and long-term IT staff. Their job outlook is improving as more and more companies look to hire highly skilled IT professionals to manage both corporate networks and Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems.
National IT Professionals Day is a good wake-up call for CISOs to recognize the contributions made by technology professionals, from working extra hours to make sure systems are stable and secure to enduring the same questions over and over about simple technological solutions. With their stress increasing even as more job prospects loom, enterprises must make time to give credit where credit is due and make sure IT professionals understand their value to the organization.