What is "Invisible" Technology?

With the wonders of site analytics, I was led to a site for educational librarians that referenced my blog, TurningTechInvisible in a comment. While I enjoyed the discussion, there was a misunderstanding (at least I felt there was) around the using the word "invisible" to describe technology. Many of the commenters preferred "transparent", and even the author of the post felt that "invisible" meant "absent".  I felt I should weigh in for clarification around the concept of "transparent" vs. "Invisible".

Image: Mojo40.com
I derived the name of the blog from reading Jim Collins' book Good To Great.  All of the companies profiled leveraged technology heavily, but NONE of them would attribute technology as the key factor for their success.

When you combine this thought with the changing face of the world we work in, the tried and true business models for the delivery of technology are being impacted by forces that will make IT departments obsolete, or cause them to adapt to be of value.

So I began a quest to "get technology out of the way", to make it "invisible like oxygen", critical for life, ubiquitous, but not thought about much until it isn't there...

That meant creating an IT organization where technology ceased to become the perceived gatekeeper, killer of great ideas, and controller of all, to a group of people who understood the needs of the organization and could actually provide high value for the organization to do things better, or do new things they couldn't do before.  I took the focus off technology, making it invisible, and put the focus on the delivery of strategic services.

There is no sense fighting for the old model.

The people that approve budgets won't fund what they think is unnecessary.

They will fund things of value (as defined by the organization, not IT).  So as an IT leader, I needed to frame the value of my organization in terms of value they would understand.

Has it worked?  I've been able to secure operational budget increases in the double digits over the last 3 years.

My sense is that libraries are being impacted by many of the same forces as IT.  I've blogged about it in a recent post "Why School Libraries are More Important than ever".

So, my message to school librarians? You have a lot of work ahead of you, but your success is dependant on your ability to adapt.  Just like IT.

Thanks for hearing me out.


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