My five pennyworth on the iPad

I must say that the iPad is everything I was looking for and some more.

I am doing my first transcontinental flight with it tomorrow and it will be my treat when I have cleared the email backlog.

But I would say that, wouldn’t I, since I love gadgets. Yes, I even had an Apple Newton all those years back! And yes, I love the way that Apple always seems to work out of the box and looks good and is fun to use.

But the reason I think that the iPad – and the countless imitation tablets now being prepared for market – will transform the way we work and play, interact with each other, download music and media, is that many of my friends and colleagues who aren’t tech heads have jumped on the iPad bandwagon and love it too.

It seems to be reaching many more than the usual early adopters. It is already being used by people are not usually into IT gimmicks. Even more striking, they all seem to be using it for quite different things: emails, photo libraries, organising politics, games, posing, following the F1 feed, reading books.

This shows its amazing appeal across generations and people, and its versatility even now.

So what does this mean for our business? What does this mean for in-flight entertainment? Will this mean a new willingness to purchase flights and holidays on mobile devices?

And what are the applications for our people? Will the iPad support customer interactions during disruption? Could it – or any tablet – become more used in Engineering or in Baggage?

This blog was of course prepared on the iPad. I even used the tappy-tap integral keyboard since I left the external one at home!

Choose your path in IT – but stay flexible

It’s a scary thing, a blog – having promised to do it weekly, and on IT-related subjects, you find yourself – just back from a great weekend experiencing art and history in Paris – feeling guilty about not having posted.   The more so, since some people actually seem to be reading it – or opening the page at least!

So I thought I would pick up the e-skills theme from last week.  I try and do some mentoring of people in my IT department at BA, and occasionally they ask what steps they should be planning in their career.

My reply has two parts – first, with regards to a career plan: although it’s definitely worth having one, don’t necessarily expect life to turn out like that.  To be honest, I would have bet a fantastic amount, when I left university, against my becoming CIO of British Airways  – but that’s another story…  However, a plan does enable you to invest in yourself and your career in a planned way and, when faced with one of those unexpected twists of fates that life can throw in your path, at least you have a framework to respond.

The second part, which I propose to those who are not sure if they want to pursue a career in IT, is that there is more than one sort of ‘techie’, that they can pursue a variety of hybrid careers and can develop capabilities that make them valuable across the whole business.

Let me expand on this:  I believe that any IT department needs at least three sorts of leaders.   First there are – for want of a better expression – the ‘uber-techies’.  These people are probably among the most valuable assets any company possesses, though whether most organisations know that is debatable.  These are you most experienced and skilled experts in the company’s IT environments.  They know how it all fits together, what works well and what legacy you should be replacing.  You will be looking for them to solve the problem when there is an outtage. And they also understand the unexploited potential of your systems.

Second there are the hybrid business and IT – or IT and business – managers.   At some point in their past, they cut code or designed systems.  Today, they manage the operations and deliver the new systems.  They are expert at managing internal skills and external providers – and woe betide either group if they try and pull the wool over their eyes.   They know what IT is there for and what IT can do, and what it cannot.   Without these very skilled people, costs run amok and delivery dates start slipping.

Last, and certainly not least, are the general managers who have no technical experience in IT but are interested in it and its potential, and understand that it really matters.   Many of them are fascinated by technology, and they are several roles in IT departments where they can add enormous value.   For instance, in relationship management – explaining IT to the rest of the organisation in plain English, managing your resources and business planning.

So there are many routes into – and out of – an IT department.  I suggest to any aspiring IT professional that they choose one of these paths, be the best they can in it, but always be ready to be flexible.

%d bloggers like this: