Working in IT is incredibly rewarding, but it can often make you feel distanced from real people and real life, especially if you telecommute: You sit in front of a computer for a large chunk of your day and a lot of the interaction between you and your coworkers is via the computer or phone. You work on your project, attend your scrums, and finish your work items and, unfortunately, a lot of times you end up forgetting why you love technology: Technology enriches our lives and does so in a multitude of ways.
But how can those of us working in technology remember that our tech reaches beyond ourselves? The most important thing to remember is that, as IT workers, even though nearly all our work is done through a machine for an imagined user, the technology we work on directly affects real people.
First we have the obvious people our tech affects: The users. Whether we’re creating a program, a website, a game, an app, or simply fixing glitches in an existing item, we do so with an end user in mind. This is the person whose needs and desires we are trying to cater to. But to push past our computer screens and into the real world, we must make sure that we don’t see these users as just a means to an end or as nuisances, who we can be rid of as soon as we change this line of code or clarify this epic. End users are both our bosses and our customers: We should want to impress them, make them happy, and give them the product they want. When our end user is happy, we’ve done our job right.
The other people our tech affects are a little harder to envision because we haven’t necessarily interacted with them. These are the people our tech affects but who won’t actually be using our product. These people are not users, they will probably never see our product in action, and they won’t be writing us a recommendation or dropping in on an elaboration session anytime soon. And yet, our product will affect them; it will hopefully improve and enrich their lives, or at least make it a little easier at times.
Information technology is a booming industry and new contracts and customers are popping up every day. As workers in this field, our work is reaching more and more people, affecting more lives, and making an even greater difference. It is our job to not only create the product our users want, but to make sure our work is about more than the product itself – our work is about the people the product is for and the people the product will impact.