Normal is usually good or merely acceptable, but it's seldom great.
I cant wait until we return to normal. ah, but what is normal?
Normal, to hear some people describe it, is circa 1999. Thats the way we want and expect things to be in a prosperous economy: a booming stock market and rising productivity driven by technology. Thats when you reasonably could be expected to strike it rich, and if you couldnt, well, something was wrong with you.
Having lived through a few boom-and-bust cycles, I believe that normal is, well, normal. Most often, it is good or merely acceptable, not bad but seldom great. Normal is a bit boring.
If youre a vendor, you dont want normal. It means you must work hard to differentiate products and prove they will deliver return on investment. In normal times, its harder to appear to be a genius to Wall Street because theres no purchase-at-any-cost hysteria driving demand.
One CIO told me, "Vendors preyed on the minds of customers with the idea that companies needed the latest technology, or employees would not work for them."
While 1999 was not normal, 2002 is, alas, not normal either. My friend the CIO now says the pendulum has swung too far back the other way. "Conservatism has led to an aversion to normal risk-taking." Normal is when an IT guy is neither a kind of techno-messiah nor a suspect in a boondoggle but merely one who brings expertise to the table, who helps, incrementally, a company enhance its productivity.
And another thing: Why did you get into IT anyway? Was it to become rich and famous? Or was it because you had a knack for building things that work and fixing things that do not? If the latter is true, then you should count your blessings that you still have those opportunities.
And hope things get back to normal soon.
Did you leave a dull IT job for a dot-com job? Are you still there? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.