2.18.2010

Olympic IT

It just goes to show how big of a Technologist I really am.

Whenever there's a big public event on television, like the olympics, the first thing that I think about is how IT is executed at these huge venues. What's different about the big events is the lack of permanence. At my place of business, the IT infrastructure is meant to stick around for quite a while. The cabling and organization is set up with that in mind. But events like the Olympics are a different beast altogether. All the effort, time, and money invested in IT infrastructure for the Olympic games is only for two weeks of service. After that, it all goes away. It amazes me how fast the IT pros working on these venues do their jobs so quickly and effectively.

Luckily, Cnet grabbed an interview with the head of IT at the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It's short, but he makes some very good points.



My favorite line of the whole video is when he says that the goal is to be as bored as possible. I guess that's the goal of any IT shop, do keep anomalies and downtime to an absolute minimum. However, I think it's a little different at a short-term, high-intensity effort like the Olympics. IT from a corporate perspective is all about growth, about not being stagnant in a dynamic and ever-advancing industry. If you're bored, you're probably falling behind, and not leveraging your IT department in a way that drives maximum profit. The Olympics is not about profit margins (at least from an IT perspective). The goal is to get in, get out, and make sure the event is properly connected to the world without a hitch. The objective is concrete, simple, and all-encompassing.

So, boredom works when your objective is clear. Us corporate types, while we may think that's the goal of IT, know and understand that the real winners in our industry are the ones that make sure they're keeping busy, but not because you can't keep up. You keep busy because you're always looking ahead to the next innovation and tool that will drive profit in your company. It's important to understand that difference.

In my world, it's the difference between being on the podium, and hurtling down a mountain, skis flying every which way, hoping to reach the bottom without serious injury.

Maybe I should start working for the Olympics.  

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