Computing Profession Has Changed
The number of changes that have happened in the computing world over the past few years have been astonishing. We are pretty much walking around like people we were once watching in science fiction movies. We have our hand held communicators (cell phones). We have computers with touch screens that have panels of buttons on them. We have so much technology around that our kids become seeming experts on it all at a young age. This is leading to yet another general change, which is seeming to know everything but actually understanding nothing.
How can you know everything but understand nothing? Quite easily it seems. Think about the last time your computer crashed. (I am going to make the assumption that has happened to you!). Do you know why, or do you simply restart it and continue? What would it take to actually know why? Do you want to know why? Could you know why? Do you have a memory chip that is going bad on your motherboard, is a bit on your hard drive bad, is a software driver out of date, what is really wrong? As computer systems get more and more complex, the systems we have to manage are harder and harder to understand. We take for granted that the systems don't work, but we never know why. We simply replace them and continue on, while manufacturers churn out more and more stuff that doesn't work. Are we being complacent, or have things just evolved to this point? At one time, when computers were, granted, more expensive, they were tended to by people educated to maintain them. Now, it could very well be that the “trained” person could be your sibling or a student in High School. At the same time, they may not have the understanding to really know what is going on.
Now, before I say, or somehow infer, that as a computing professional I have some sort of crystal ball that tells me everything that goes wrong and why, let me say that some problems baffle the best of us. However, I have had the opportunity to look deeply into some problems, and have found really interesting results ranging from networking switches that corrupt some packets, routers that fail under some conditions and poor quality capacitors that make motherboard issues act like flaky software problems.
The “throw it out if it doesn't work” notion of today's society, coupled with the assumption that every kid on the block knows how to fix a computer, is leading us down a path in which problems are not really being solved. The industry is catering to the user that doesn't have the time or money to figure out they are being taken advantage of. Many of the local computer “repair shops” don't have the knowledge to really dig into a problem (nor the time, or the ability to submit a large bill to the customer). While this is possibly acceptable for the home user, this doesn't necessarily work out as a sustainable model for a company.
In order for a company to have a successful computing environment, the machines need to be stable and work. If there are networking problems, they need to be solved and not bandaged. This is when the value of having a computing professional on staff becomes of great value. When you have an individual committed to your environment, they can start to look deeper in to the issues going on and come up with real solutions that will stabilize the environment. Yes, there is a cost involved, but there will ultimately be dollars saved in the long run through greater productivity.