Those of us who work in IT have historically focused on being technology experts, as we should, but what should be our main focus? President David O. McKay, in the October 1966 general conference of the Church, said scientific discoveries “stagger the imagination. … discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings as to make men’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands. … This age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities.” Today, technology enables those “untold possibilities . . . latent with potent power.”
The IT acronym, information and technology, defines our focus. Too often, however, technology experts focus on the “T” as that which is most important. It is exciting and captures our imagination as it changes, moves, and evolves.
As Copernicus realized that the earth was not the center of the universe, we in IT need to have a similar epiphany. The center of our universe is not the technology, but the information – not the “T,” but the “I.”
Here at the Church, the same principle applies. The message of the Restoration is the same as it was in Joseph’s day. That information it is what endures. . Our purpose in IT is to leverage these inspired technologies to provide methods, systems, and tools to assist the Church in the capture, storage, preservation, and delivery of information. Technology is the tool—not the product.
It is easy to be distracted by the tools of our trade. We often view them as the most important element. We discuss, contend, and spend tremendous effort determining which tool, method, or process is best. We get caught up in debates over Java vs. .Net, Oracle vs. MS SQL, Waterfall vs. Agile, and buy vs. build, but the software and tools we use around the information will come and go.
We should be more focused on delivering the right solutions, rather than delivering the right tool. Sometimes, IT professionals get a bit defensive at this thought, but consider: in five years, it is possible we won’t be using the same technology we use now to create solutions for our customers.
Information may change in format and structure, but the content of the message will always remain the same. Here at the Church, the information is what endures.
The Lord has blessed us with incredible technology to build His kingdom here on the earth. As the watchmen, we have a sacred duty to understand and use this technology to further His work. We need to remember that the “T” is to enable the “I”. It is the “I” that endures.
Eric Michie is a senior program manager for the Church.