The technology pro's greatest enemies

How to spot -- and take down -- the six most nefarious adversaries of IT

  • You might think IT's greatest enemies are cyber criminals and malware authors. But far worse are those who make the lives of these evildoers that much easier. In fact, the greatest enemies of IT are members of the community IT serves: from clueless suits to annoying power users, from miserly managers to those friends and family members who are always hitting you up for free tech support. Any one of them can keep you from doing your best -- or getting anything done at all.

  • IT enemy No. 1: The Ostrich The biggest enemy of many IT pros: bosses who bury their heads in the sand when it comes to technology, yet are still empowered to make critical IT decisions. Recognizing the enemy: That glazed-over look when confronted with technical questions, or the moment they open their mouths. Your best defense: Seek air support from high command, which means getting a CXO type to step in and say, "This is the way it's going to be." Read the full article: "[[xref:|The technology pro's greatest enemies]]"
  • IT enemy No. 2: The Penny Pincher Whether it's an enterprise-level CFO or a small-business owner, a penny-wise/pound-foolish manager can stand in the way of necessary IT investments -- making your job much harder. Recognizing the enemy: Though you might garner clues from threadbare office furniture or those Windows 98 machines running in the reception area, the only way to know for sure is to ask pointed questions about how the organization allocates resources for technology. If they answer, 'We never do that," or, "We get things as we need them," that's a red flag. Your best defense: Gather intelligence. Find an incident where the organization's lack of IT investment hurt its bottom line -- say, a server that crashed or a backup that failed, leaving customers in the lurch -- and exploit it.
  • IT enemy No. 3: The Power User Every IT pro has stories about plebes who suck the lifeblood from the help desk with questions about their PC's "any" key. But the real threat is posed by users who know just enough to be dangerous. Recognizing the enemy: They might be wearing Armani or T-shirts and flip-flops, but they're carrying a [[xref:|jailbroken iPhone in one hand]], a Palm Pre in the other, and two laptops in their bag. Your best defense: PsychOps. The only way to get a Power User's attention is to scare the hell out of them, then gradually bring them over to your side. The exact approach depends on the position they hold in the corporate ranks.
  • IT enemy No. 4: The Politico As technology rises in importance across virtually every organization, office politicians will be looking to surf the IT wave into the executive suite -- even if they have to ride on your back to do it. Recognizing the enemy: Look for managers who've mastered the art of talking out of both sides of their mouths at the same time. Your best defense: Dig a trench and try to outlast them. Effective CEOs are veterans at spotting those playing office politics. Or make allies with high command to shield yourself from radioactive fallout when things implode.
  • IT enemy No. 5: The Freeloader If you know anything about technology, you've surely encountered this time- and patience-sapping foe. A "simple" question about computers morphs into demands for free 24/7 tech help when you have actual paying customers to support. Recognizing the enemy: When they find out what you do for a living they immediately (a) ask for your card, (b) start flirting shamelessly, or (c) launch into a tale of technical woe. Your best defense: If possible, retreat. When you spot a user like this just start running down the hall screaming. Unfortunately, since you're often related to these people, you will eventually run into them at weddings and funerals.
  • IT enemy No. 6: You/Me/Us We have met the enemy and he is us, to quote Pogo's Walt Kelly. When things go wrong with technology, IT people often have no one to blame but themselves. Recognizing the enemy: Look in the mirror, my friend. Your best defense: Return to boot camp. Discipline and training help IT pros avoid succumbing to their weaker natures. However, no matter how well trained you and your IT colleagues may be, you'll still have to deal with users who aren't.
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