With the possible exception of your corporate lawyers, there's probably no organization in the average corporation more reviled than the folk who support the computers. I realize that IT groups are often understaffed and underpaid but even so, some IT groups seem to have a weird knack for getting under the skin. Here are five examples:

1. They treat us like we're idiots.

OK, I realize that "Is it plugged in?" probably fixes 25% of the user problems that get called in on the help line. Even so, would it kill the IT staffers on the help line to throw us a face-saving bone like "I realized you've probably already checked this, but I have to ask because I'm following the rules. 'Is it plugged in?'" Is that really too much to ask?

2. They have crap people skills.

IT staffers usually aren't the most empathetic people on the planet, especially if they're being goaled on how fast they can cycle through a problem rather than if the users are satisfied. To be fair, though, it's the rare company that, when hiring for IT, looks for anything beyond technical chops. Or bothers to give them some sensitivity training.

3. Most CIOs are fairly useless.

C-level execs fall into two categories: the ones who might someday end up running the company (like COO, CFO, and CSO) and the ones who won't (like Chief Ethics Officer, Chief Diversity Officer, and Chief Information Officer). The latter group exists mostly to manage appearances and check the boxes:

  • Are we ethical? Check! We have a Chief Ethics Officer!
  • Do we value diversity? Check! We have a Chief Diversity Officer!
  • Do we have information? Check! We have a Chief Information Officer!

CIOs give plenty of PowerPoint presentations but other than bloviating in the board room, what does your typical CIO do, really, that's beyond what you'd reasonably expect from a competent IT director?

Let's be honest here: not all that much. 

4. They talk fluent techno-babble.

It's not just the CIOs that spread the technical jargon thicker than half-frozen molasses. It's their staffers, the vendors and the technical hoi-polloi, too. Here are some typical specimens from a real-life IT-focused advertorial from Dell Computer:

  • "collective digital footprint"
  • "embraced IT transformation"
  • "leveraging data to maximize success"
  • "leveraging numbers-based insights to gain advantages"
  • "vast data stratosphere"
  • "the biggest factors impacting employee engagement"

Ow. My head hurts.

5. They can't do their most important job.

You'd think after 50 years, IT groups would actually succeed in making and keeping corporate systems secure--if only by demanding operating systems that can't be so easily penetrated. But that's not happening, as evidenced by the dozens of major data breaches that hit the news each year.

Note: if you're in an IT group, you can take the above as mere snark or as constructive criticism. Your choice. However, I really do think that IT groups need to lose the attitude, amp the humility up, and start thinking of themselves as helpers in the real world rather than masters of the cyber-verse.