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Making Toast for a Living

Darren Murray

TED is an amazing resource and this particular talk from Tom Wujec discusses systems and design thinking and how it can help a team visualise and solve its challenges.

Watch Tom's Ted Talk here.

It’s important for people in all areas of a business to understand the concepts that underpin technology, improve the questions that are asked of technology professionals and their responses. I believe this understanding will help businesses embrace the right technologies and help IT teams to present both new and existing concepts in a clearer and more compelling way.

As a systems architect, you rely on nodes and links to help develop and share a design of a complex technology system. This talk highlighted how the way an Enterprise or Systems Architect looks at a problem can be applied to many areas.

We intuitively know how to break down complex things into simple things and bring them back together again.

If you work in IT you may find that many technology choices are as obvious to you as how to make toast, such as when not to click a link or an email that should be junk, what data should really be on encrypted storage and even that encrypted storage is an option, but this is learnt through experience and is not universally understood. Longer term technology itself will either remove these decisions or the negative consequences of them but in the short, to medium term, the consumerisation of IT has increased the risk and exposure of many businesses.

Consumerization of IT is a positive trend. It is, in essence, individuals responding to good design and intuitive user experience and this needs to be embraced by all areas of the business and in particular corporate IT. What we can do as IT professionals are evaluating how we explain the detail of technology to those who are not interested in it, those important underlying concepts that inform our decisions whether it is using existing technology or adopting completely new systems.

I believe by breaking down corporate technology into simple concepts and making technology relevant to people in the business it should be possible to positively impact a number of areas that include:

  • The rate of success and return on investment for technology-related projects.

  • Adoption and pace of change within an organisation to help it tackle new competitors.

  • Reduction in risk related to information security threats and data loss.

With some research showing that 25% of IT projects fail and Statistics NZ reporting that we spend $6.4 billion per year on IT products and services, there is value in anything that could help increase the rate of success, improve adoption and reduce the risk of IT within the business.