Wednesday, January 25, 2012

IT Purchasing and career ambitions

Lately I've been pondering exactly how those of us decide what to buy for our IT departments. I imagine there are the usual biases including brand reputation and past platform use, but also there may be a more career oriented bias that is sometimes overlooked: the resume.

Let's imagine that you are tasked with a project that involves building up an entirely new infrastructure set, without worry of any current platforms being used. How are you going to make your purchasing decisions? Obviously you'll have a budget and so a bang for your buck calculation will have to be made. But if all platforms are equally affordable, what is the chance that you'll pick something that will look good for your future endeavors? For example, will you use VMware ESXi and vSphere knowing that yet further experience in designing and maintaining such a platform will provide benefits to your professional development? I am finding lately that a significant number of the administrators I maintain contact with are actually taking this factor into consideration.There is actually a rather nice and short article on TechRepublic talking about what they expect to be the top skills for 2012 ( and it is certainly worth a read.

What is interesting about this observation is that one will find that the effect starts to diminish the larger the organization in question becomes. As the decision making process drifts from being about one individual, and the expertise of a large group is brought into play you end up with a sort of 'sum of its parts' situation. The career desires and past experiences of the entire group, plus vendor relationships and technical support needs all begin to pull in different directions until a middle ground is created or found. It would appear to me however that careerism doesn't completely disappear from the decision, but instead shows faintly through the ambitions of each individual member of the decision making process. Each opinion and proposal will reflect not only current opinion, but in some way the future plans of the person in question and where they see the organization traveling.

For management knowing that this tendency may exist opens a new way to understand their IT staff. By getting recommendations on a regular basis one can actually tell how the group views the future of the IT department, as well as a hint as to what each of them would like to be doing in the long term with their career personally. For the staff being self aware of the tendency would allow them to embrace the concept and attempt to further both business and personal development goals. I suppose truly the factor that is at play is that even though we're IT workers, engineers, and administrators constantly surrounded by machines, we are still quite considerably human in what influences our decisions. So now I ask you, what drives your decision making process?

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