What to Do: 2006

Ready for 2006? If you've read the tips, insights and hard looks ahead in this special Forecast issue of Computerworld, you already know plenty about what lies ahead in the coming year. Now you need to turn that information into a practical plan - a to-do list for the next 12 months.

Here are a few items to get that list started:

  • Start treating users as partners. Forget "users are our customers" -- you don't want them bargaining for the best deal, you want them sharing the risk, responsibilities and work involved in IT projects. The more involved they are, the closer you'll come to what they want - and the less grief you'll get.
  • Practice the art of the elevator pitch. Spend five minutes each day translating technical justifications for projects into clear, concise business proposals. It's not just for your CEO -- this year, you want everyone (IT or not) involved in every project to be on the same page. A short, tight, business-oriented project description helps give you that edge.
  • Target one non-IT peer and have some face time. Spring for lunch. (Note to managers: Approve the @#$%! lunch expense, already!) Ask what in IT works well, what needs improvement and if anything really stinks. Mainly, though, put a human face on IT. Yeah, you'll get friends-and-family requests later. But at least you won't just be one of those idiots in the computer room anymore.
  • Learn one new technology well enough to discuss it. It doesn't have to be very new; if RFID, 802.11g, NAND flash, Ruby and AJAX are just buzzwords to you, they're candidates. You're in the IT business; in 2006, make sure you stretch your technology muscles regularly.
  • Identify your real competition. If you can't name your current top three business competitors, talk to someone in sales. And if you think sales is one of the IT department's real competitors, find another job -- your organization is busy eating itself up from within.
  • Do a gadget census -- not to encourage or prevent any gadget's use, but to find out what's popular among your users. If BlackBerries stop working, you'll want to know in advance how bad the problem will be.
  • Plug the "pod slurping" hole in PCs. It lets an iPod user copy files through a USB port, without using the keyboard or a password. You can lock down those ports manually, or with endpoint security software from companies such as SmartLine , Senforce Technologies and Centennial Software . But do it now, while slurping is still only a cute name for a proof of concept.

  • Find one worthwhile blog and read it every day. And if there's not enough to hold your interest for five minutes a day, find a better one.
  • Hold a fire drill. No, don't surprise your staff or leave the building. Just schedule a stand-up meeting among the cubes to walk through it, so everyone knows what to do in case of a minor catastrophe -- and make sure there are triple backups for every critical task during evacuation.
  • Secure your trash: paper, old hard drives, burned CDs. And remind users that when they take data home on a CD, they should bring it back for IT to dispose of. Then invest in a heavy-duty shredder to slice up those CDs, and maybe even let users watch the show - with appropriate protection, of course. That'll remind them that you're serious about security.
  • Identify one really crappy piece of software in your IT portfolio. (Don't think you have any? Raise your standards.) Fix or replace it if you can. If you can't, just keep reminding yourself that it's there. You don't want to add anything that bad to your company's IT portfolio this year.
  • Write a one-page five-year plan. Why five years? That forces you to think forward. Why one page? That keeps you focused on the big picture, so you don't waste time on details you can't guess about.

It's a new year. You've got things to do. Get to it.

Frank Hayes, Computerworld's senior news columnist, has covered IT for more than 20 years. Contact him at frank_hayes@computerworld.com.

Special Report

Bold Predictions for 2006

Stories in this report:

Related:

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon