Conventional IT Wisdom

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A few things in IT remain true, despite the best efforts of vendor marketers, management gurus, industry analysts and Computerworld pundits to make everyone believe otherwise:

The Internet poses security risks. Always has. Always will.

Users dont understand IT never have, never will. All they really understand is their jobs.

No project gets enough time, budget and resources to be done the way it should be done.

Free anything isnt.

Faster hardware is cheaper than faster software.

Vendors and consultants are trying to make as much money from customers as possible. Its up to us to get our moneys worth. Caveat emptor.

The best technology doesnt always make a successful product. Then again, the best technology may not be what you need.

Some vendors really dont like some other vendors so much that theyre willing to let it get in the way of working with customers.

If nobody else is trying something, theres usually a reason. Maybe not a good reason, but a reason.

Faster hardware doesnt solve business problems unless the business problem is slow hardware.

The CEO will always think consultants ideas are good because hes paying good money for them.

Traffic expands to fill the bandwidth provided.

If you take something away from users, theyll sneak it in the back way anyhow.

The most powerful influence on CEOs IT preferences are the people who write for airline in-flight magazines.

More bandwidth/memory/storage/processing power than youll ever need will last you six months. A year, tops.

Weve never done it that way before is a more powerful argument than any cost-benefit analysis.

IT projects advance or die. Sometimes both. But if a project isnt advancing, its dying.

Nobody ever got fired for buying the flavor of the month.

What counts isnt how much a product costs when you buy it. What counts is how much it costs before you finally shut it down.

Functionality isnt the same as usefulness.

When you just have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Most IT people just have technology.

It always takes longer and costs more to fix it later.

The systems that last are the ones you were counting on to be obsolete.

A good idea is no match for a bad habit.

By the time your CEO has read about a technology, its no longer a strategic advantage.

Ninety percent of a systems cost is still training people to use it.

IT projects fail. Large projects fail more often than small ones. So if failure isnt an option, youll never do anything.

If you think your companys users are awful, just wait till youre on the Web and have customers of your own.

Exactly what you want always costs more than what you can afford whether its technology or IT employees.

Old ideas got that way because they proved useful.

Data isnt information. Information isnt knowledge. Knowledge isnt manageable.

Systems arent made from metaphors, paradigms and methodologies. Theyre made from code, wires and hardware.

The Model T didnt become a standard because it was the best. It became a standard because it was the cheapest.

The hardest problems get solved last.

Frank Hayes, Computer­worlds senior news columnist, is out sick this week. This column originally appeared in 2000. You can contact Hayes at

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