Working hard to make things easy

26 November 2021 | Business

Johann van Rooyen



Having been in the information and communications technology (ICT) business for longer than I remember, I’ve seen it all. Laptops filled with sand to servers and whole IT systems being held together on a wing and a prayer. Frankly, on the one hand, I shouldn’t complain, the mysteries of ICT, equipment, software and now applications, the internet and storage solutions mean we have a viable business and there’s no end in sight as innovation and technology keep moving forward at breakneck speed.

I recently realised the major problem with IT is that the harder you work on hardening the systems to make sure nothing goes wrong, the less people realise how vital you are. If nothing fails, no one notices.

Gone are the days that you would need to reboot several times a day, the ‘blue screen of death’ rarely happens. IT systems require investment, they require upkeep and they require back-ups and especially now that systems have become business critical and need to be ‘always on’. The global Facebook and WhatsApp outage from a few weeks ago only lasted six hours, but for some it seemed to last an eternity.

Due to the systems, laptops, devices and apps so rarely faltering, users don’t think about it. When they do malfunction in any way, the user is often reduced to simply cursing, perhaps giving the hardware a good smack or at a pinch, turning the machine off and on again. This is the moment people ask “why do we pay for IT support if the system fails?”

However, when everything runs smoothly, the same question phrased slightly differently also gets asked: “Why do we pay for IT support if everything runs smoothly all the time?”

Very quickly IT support is called to work out what the issue is. At times it is something as simple as the machine or device simply not being plugged in, hence that’s the first question always asked.

Everywhere around the world every single service seems to be online. There’s probably an app for it, or a website where you can buy, order, sign up for. All these convenient applications have been coded and developed by engineers, programmers and whole armies of people who keep them running.

This is where I need to champion the information officers, the system engineers and the tech guys and girls, often simply called the ‘IT nerd’. We fix what is broken, we make sure your processes that are automated work, we clean your Outlook mailbox. We take our praise from the bragging rights we get amongst ourselves for keeping a system in the air without any ‘downtime’.

However, if no investment is made in the upkeep and modernisation of equipment and of software, you will find yourself with a device that doesn’t work. Departments, offices, manufacturing lines and applications will grind to a halt. So, if you want to make sure you never have to think about why your computer or the ICT system works, make sure regular investment, upgrades and maintenance are done on your system. This way we can make it look easy for you.

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