It’s the People, Stupid

by | Jan 28, 2013 | jahlberg

Have you ever heard the technology acronym PEBKAC? Or maybe PICNIC or an ID-10T error? If not, I’ll let you in on this secret IT slang:

  • PEBKAC – “Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair”
  • PICNIC – “Problem In Chair Not In Computer”
  • ID-10T error – “Idiot error”

Funny when applied to the guy in the next office, but not so funny when applied to you, right? I know the terms are silly, but I believe they symbolize a larger issue with technology support: the trivializing of the people, and misplaced focus on the technology. The problem with technology is not stupid people; instead it’s all about the people, stupid.

I know – seems obvious, right? The question is why it happens. I learned a long time ago that it is much easier to worry about a server or a computer compared to worrying about the end users. Making sure a user is productive, getting the help they need, and are happy is more difficult. Maybe that is why most tech firms don’t focus on the people side of the equation as much. I can hire a “server guy (or gal),” point him at a server, tell him to do his thing and I know it will get done well. It is much more difficult to hire a “server guy” and point him at end users and tell him to take care of what they need.

Is it impossible to hire tech people who are capable of being good people people as well? It’s difficult, but not impossible. It’s simply a matter of priorities. Start with the job description and go from there. Sure, we have to outline the technical needs of the position, but we can also interview and hire for the “people” side. We would much rather hire someone with a lot of business experience and a passion for technology than a technology geek with a long list of certifications and no business experience. We want a tech person who thinks like a business person. For example, the first thing they should think about when working with a user is “how will this impact the end user?” By thinking this way it makes it nearly impossible to do the typical tech guy thing and just worry about the technology on their desk.

If you are made to feel like you’re the problem when you call your tech support, you need new tech support. You are not a PEBKAC or a PICNIC or an ID-10T. You are not stupid.  Your productivity is the entire point of technology. Hold your technology providers to a higher standard. Demand better communication, more responsiveness, and more courtesy.





John Ahlberg
CEO, Waident

CIO in the corporate world and now for Waident clients. John injects order and technology into business process to keep employees productive, enterprises running, and data safe.


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