Enterprise IT, Ideas and Adventures in Social Media

I’ve always been a bit of a Enterprise IT guy.

To me there’s nothing a small, highly-motivated team can do when inspired to achieve a common goal.

But at the same time, I have seen this kind of environment turn insular and it’s people become unwilling to accept external input. Somewhere along the way, that same wonderful camaraderie builds a kind of collective hubris. In this environment, wheels are constantly re-invented, best practises are often disregarded and the viewpoints of outsiders are rarely sought or at worst met with xenophobic disdain.

You won’t see much of this breed on the ‘net, save for the occasional question posed on Stack Overflow. Its type tend to observe rather than participate, only venturing outside their protected habitats briefly to gather what information and tools they need to get the job done.

Yet despite all this, the team thrives in this isolated environment, often coming up with innovative and novel solutions to difficult problems and (mostly) delighting stakeholders with the fruits of its labour. The fact is that often this team is so closely aligned with its internal customer’s goals that its technical shortcomings have limited bearing on the end result. Though there can be notable exceptions, as anyone who’s spent time auditing Enterprise Web App security would know!

Yes I’m an Enterprise IT guy — guilty as charged — but I’m starting to realise how much I’ve been missing in “the outside world”. During the last 6 months, as I have taken my first tentative steps into the world of social media and attended my first major conference (you can read about my incredible experience at BoS2010), I have started to feel more and more part of a greater community.

I knew that doing this would be a bit of a humbling and at times scary experience, but what I didn’t expect is how it would make the world feel like a smaller place. Everyday it seems, people are finding new ways to come together, to share ideas and learn from each other’s experiences. If it’s true that grand ideas are formed in the rapid collision of lots of smaller ideas, then the future of the connected world looks very bright indeed.

Perhaps this big IT world could benefit from the trials and tribulations of a little corporate IT world. And maybe I can encourage some of my fellow team members take those first few steps outside as well. Just perhaps.