Why IT Experience Matters
Anyone who’s worked in IT for long enough knows that experience does not automatically create expertise. Some people might have been working with the same tools and systems for decades — they’re very adept at a narrow set of skills, but when they’re forced to adapt, they struggle with new techniques and paradigms.
What you need in your IT department or consultancy is real experience. Real experience comes from weathering change, adapting to shifting markets and consumer behavior, and changing techniques as newer, more efficient systems come into being. The world of technology is changing rapidly, and you need someone who can keep up.
Experience vs. Learning
As we touched on above, there’s a significant difference between experience and learning. Many companies have been doing things the same way for decades — a surprising number of major companies run most of their data analysis through Microsoft Excel, for example. But if a wrench is thrown in the works and Excel is no longer supported or doesn’t meet new compliance standards for data security, those companies will suddenly find themselves in extremely dire straits.
These “wrenches in the works” are more common than you might think. In December of 2020, Adobe ended its 27-year support for Flash, which at its peak formed the underpinnings of much of the modern web. In November of 2019, RIPE NCC officially “ran out” of IPv4 addresses, requiring millions of pieces of software to start incorporating IPv6 addresses as well. Microsoft Silverlight, a Flash competitor released in 2007, will officially hit the end of its life later this year.
A truly experienced IT professional will use their diversity of experience to gain an understanding of the variegated IT landscape and process. They’ll use their previous experience solving a variety of problems to pursue the most efficient path when they discover new issues. What you need in your tech department isn’t someone who knows one piece of software inside and out. What you need is someone who knows how to find the right tools for the job, implement them into your workflows, and adapt to whatever comes next.
What Can and Can’t Change
Experience teaches us how quickly the world of technology can change and how to adapt to that change, but it also teaches us what can’t change. There are certain areas of the tech world that have remained static for decades and are likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future, and it’s in the best interest of any IT department to know what those are.
For example, speed matters. User standards for what constitutes a responsive website or piece of software have changed over time, but it has always been the case that an interaction that tests your visitors’ patience will lose customers.
At the same time, it will always take longer to load a photo than text or a solid color. There will always be server latency delays, especially in the case of financial transactions or large uploads. When these factors converge, everyone building a website needs to know that no matter how fast gigabit internet or 5G cell signals get, a website needs placeholders, responsive images, and loading animations to keep impatient users from leaving the site.
An experienced IT professional knows the difference between what can be fixed and what must be artfully worked around. Rather than denying inevitable problems or wasting effort trying to change them, your IT department should know how to judiciously budget their time and resources.
Buy, Don’t Build
The final lesson that comes from experience is that whatever problem you need to solve, there’s a very good chance that you’re not the first person to have that same problem. The tech world is full of clever code, templates, and tools that can help any company solve any of its pain points.
An experienced IT team knows that third-party software tools are often a far more efficient option than attempting to solve a problem with a custom solution — more importantly, they’re familiar with which tools and utilities are on the market and which are the best fit for your company.
When you bring in an experienced IT consultancy to handle your company’s technology needs, you’re not just paying for expertise in the technology and systems of the modern world. You’re paying for decades of lessons learned and the decision-making prowess that comes with them.
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