Sunday, June 10, 2012

The IT Legacy

Those of you who only know me online probably don't know that I grew up on a farm. It was a small family affair raising primarily corn and soybeans. About a week ago was the end of an era as all the equipment was sold on auction. It's very emotional to watch so many things being sold that have so many memories attached.

I think it was only natural to find myself thinking about legacy and how the time we spend working leaves a lasting impact. Watching the family business being liquidated has that effect.
We IT and technology types work in a very short-lived universe. I've been doing this as a career for eleven years myself. I can almost guarantee that none of the systems I installed at the beginning of my career are still in use. How about you? What kind of longevity has the work you've done in your career had?

A farm has a very obvious legacy. There's many assets: equipment, a building site, real estate. There's also the impact on the people who've grown up and worked there. Work ethic, a wider perspective about our food, deep appreciation for the cycle of life just to name a few.

So what is the IT legacy? When it comes down to the end of it all, what can an IT worker say she/he has accomplished and has a lasting impact? When your grandkids ask you what have you done what will you be able to point out?

Sure, we have an impact on the business, the processes, the systems. However, the lasting impact is on the people we and our technology serve. We tend to interact with people most often at the worst part of their day, especially if you are in any sort of tech support. The people we help are unhappy, often angry, frustrated, even scared. At that point we have the chance to touch a person's life, to improve it. There is the possibility to care for and nurture the people around us through our support of technology.

I'll be telling my grandkids about the crazy things people needed help with. How to deal with and help people when they're bent out of shape and scared for their jobs. Most importantly that confidence, kindness, and understanding in difficult situations will leave a deep impact on people for the better.

Technology for its own sake is pretty pointless. Technology for improving our lives and the lives around us, now that is where the good stuff starts to happen!


  1. Made me think about Ivanka's recent posts about CMDB's for intangible assets. Not like a 4 TB email store is valuable, but there are probably some nuggets in there.

    1. Just bookmarked her site. Will be reading up soon!

  2. Sad to hear that the auction happened. I remember growing up and hearing all of the talk of selling everything and moving off of the farm ... not fun talk.

    Unless you know COBOL or Fortran and worked in the financial industry (or in a library), your stuff will probably be long gone. I think the lasting impacts really revolves around the culture left behind, many times, instead of the actual systems in place.

    1. It was sad to see but a reality when none of us kids chose that career. I was hoping to show my kids more about it rather than telling them but I'll have some of those chances through friends.

      YES! The culture. And technical people have a lot more impact on it than we often recognize. The toolset we provide is used organization-wide and our influence is nearly as wide-reaching as management/administration.

    2. Agreed on both items you listed. If you need another place to take your boys, just let me know ... my dad loves having people out to the place.