Dilbert and the Cost of IT Training

Michael Vizard

The biggest challenge any IT organization has with adopting any new technology is coming up to speed on it. The simple fact of the matter is, as noted in this latest installment of the popular Dilbert cartoon, companies don't really want to pay to train their IT employees.

The reason for this all too often comes down to economics. It's more cost effective for them to recruit outside talent that has acquired the new IT skills they need, which frequently show up in the form of a younger employee that costs less to hire. Conversely, they can pay to train their employees on the latest and greatest, only to see them go somewhere else to make more money using their newly acquired skills. Even If they stay, they wind up having to pay not only for the cost of the training, but also for the cost of the raise that the employee will inevitably request now that they are more valuable on the open market.

For these reasons, a lot of companies think it is incumbent on their IT employees to stay current. The IT employees, however, don't have much of an incentive to stay current on new technologies, so they resist adopting them as long as possible.

The only real answer to this quandary can come from the vendor community. Inevitably, the biggest beneficiary of IT training is the vendors who market and sell new technology that requires new skills. If the customer doesn't have the IT skills needed to use the product, there's not much chance they will buy the product in the first place.

Vendors understand this issue and more CTOs are getting aggressive about pushing the cost of training their IT staffs back onto to the vendors. This, of course, will raise vendor costs, which may find its way back into the costs of the products. But from the CTO's perspective, this approach is preferable to constantly trying to wrangle training dollars out of an IT budget that the business is always looking to cut.

Vendors know that if nobody knows how to use their technology; the size of their available market is constrained along with their own financial growth. The issue is coming up with a way to make IT technology more readily accessible to customers so not only does the vendor benefit, but also the customer. After all, they will be in a better position to improve the overall state of any business that heavily depends on IT to compete.

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