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The IT Education Department

Originally published February 7, 2013

Not too long ago organizations used to have what was called an IT education department. The purpose of that organization was to allow non-technical employees to get “up to speed” on computer technology. In their heyday almost every corporation had such a department. But today that department has all but disappeared. Where did it go and is it still needed?

Why are there no longer IT education departments in today’s organizations? That is probably like asking why we don’t have a horse and buggy anymore. There probably are a hundred reasons for the demise of IT education departments. Here is a short list of them:

  • Once upon a time the computer was a thing known only to a few people. But today the computer is ubiquitous. The computer is in your telephone. It is in your car. It is in your golf bag. In your watch. Even in your glasses. But especially it is on the Internet. What once was a curious and unknown device is now a well known and very familiar device.

  • Organizations are not building and installing many new systems anymore. The operational systems have long ago been installed and even sophisticated decision support systems have been installed. There just aren’t all that many new systems now.

  • Vendors supply all the classes that are needed. Vendors have (usually) excellent classes that are available. Many of the classes are as convenient as the Internet. So if someone from an organization needs to take a class, it is cheaper to have that person do it individually. There just are not masses of people who need IT training.

  • Universities offer degrees in computer science and information systems. Once there was a day when only a handful of universities offered a few basic courses in technology. Today it is common for many colleges and universities to offer a diverse set of courses and sophisticated plans of study in information technology.
When you look at this list, it is obvious why the IT education department has gone away. It is more efficient and more economical for people to get education outside the corporation than it is inside the corporation.

Having stated that, is there still a need for certain kinds of IT and technical education inside the corporation? The answer is yes, although the needs for IT and technical education have certainly changed from yesteryear. Why is there still a need for specialized IT and technical education within the corporation? Here are some reasons:
  • The wrong message is being learned outside the corporation. For example, a user of the Internet assumes that every query to the computer should come back in a few seconds. That is implicitly what people have learned from the Internet. And indeed SOME queries should come back in a few seconds. But there are many queries that should not and do not come back instantaneously. Yet the conclusion drawn from the Internet is that that is not true.

  • Corporate systems have nuances that can only be learned inside the corporation. Structures of data, the way that queries must be sequenced, what data is secure and what data isn’t – there is a whole lore about the specifics of any corporation that can never be learned from a vendor or a university.

  • Deep sophisticated analytical processing that is done in a heuristic fashion can almost never be learned outside of the corporation. There simply are some disciplines that are so intrinsic to an industry and to a corporation within that industry that that style of processing can only be learned inside the confines of the corporation.
Unquestionably the whole focus of corporate IT and technical education has changed from the early days to today, but there still is a need for some types of corporate IT and technical education.

  • Bill InmonBill Inmon

    Bill is universally recognized as the father of the data warehouse. He has more than 36 years of database technology management experience and data warehouse design expertise. He has published more than 40 books and 1,000 articles on data warehousing and data management, and his books have been translated into nine languages. He is known globally for his data warehouse development seminars and has been a keynote speaker for many major computing associations.

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