IT Challenges: A 20-Year Look Back at “Office Space”

TPS reports. Flair. Red Swingline® stapler. Non-working printer. Cube farms.

If you’re a fan of the cult hit “Office Space” – a 1999 comedy about a technology company working on software updates in preparation for Y2K – you’ll recognize all of the items listed above. In addition to the laughs the movie provokes, it also provides an interesting perspective of the differences that technology has made in both business processes, IT job responsibilities and the IT workforce itself.

Employees of the technology company depicted in the movie are shown handling repetitive, mindless tasks day after day as they update software to handle the new millennium. No one enjoys their job, and no one believes their true talents are being leveraged.

As I watch the movie again 20 years after it was released, I’m fascinated by how dependent the technology company was on people and paper to drive business processes. Today, even as companies grow and become more complex, we enjoy the capability to better integrate disparate systems, harmonize data from multiple sources and automatically update, test and route data where it needs to go.

Unlike the tech employees’ responsibilities portrayed in the movie, today’s IT staff must handle a myriad of responsibilities. However, integration platforms, automated mapping capabilities, cloud services and managed services that support an IT staff by taking on tasks that range from repetitive and simple to proprietary and complex have changed the IT work environment.

Fortunately, data integration and management tasks can be automated today to handle simple, repetitive tasks that require staff resources but create a less interesting, tedious work environment. More importantly, time-consuming complex tasks that include integration, monitoring, testing, validating and adjusting capacity can also be automated to ensure that accurate, real-time data is also accessible throughout the organization.

Of course, IT challenges faced by organizations in 2019 are made even more complex by the myriad of systems and applications used throughout an enterprise, and the growing list of new technologies and applications that evolve each year. Whether an enterprise grows organically in size and scope of products or services provided or grows through merging and acquiring other companies, the result is a multitude of disparate systems and applications that exist in silos – unable to share data to streamline internal and external processes.

As data sources grow, technology advances and application-to-application (A2A) integration and data management become more complex, the challenge for many IT leaders is finding the talent and expertise needed to handle today’s IT responsibilities. As IT skills increase in importance and organizations of all sizes look to grow their IT departments to handle enterprise demands, IT expertise becomes more difficult to find – and retain. A survey by a global staffing agency demonstrates that 47% of IT employers will increase headcount in the next year; 70% of IT employers say they face a “moderate to extreme” skills shortage. These shortages are not just in one industry either – a survey of healthcare IT executives reports IT vacancies in 43 percent of organizations.

One solution for the IT talent challenge is a data integration and management provider who acts as a partner with the IT department – managing the day-to-day integration, management and compliance activities while allowing in-house IT staff to focus on mission-critical activities. Not only does this relieve IT managers from the stress of continually hiring staff, but it also frees staff to be more strategic and innovative as they look for ways to add value to the business.

If you haven’t seen “Office Space,” I encourage you to do so. Not only will you laugh at the portrayal of office life and the personalities of the workplace – which may not have changed as much as you think – but you will also have a greater appreciation for the technology that makes our work lives a bit easier today.

Does your business have a partner who can help you navigate and manage the challenges of IT integration and data management – and relieve some of your staffing woes? Visit our website for more information about OpenText™ ALLOY™.

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