"We find people who want to install software and technology when they should be installing a strategy." That is a comment from one of the contributors to this issue's directory of Maintenance Information Systems for Midsize and Larger Organizations. I call this fixation with having the right technology the gearhead mentality.
The gearhead mentality was first called to my attention by my son. He has been teaching electric guitar and bass for some years and applying his income toward his education. He is now in the home stretch of a master's degree. A number of his students have always wanted to spend the lesson time paid for by their parents in discussing the pros and cons of various models and brands of guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals rather than on learning to play the instrument. He calls these students gearheads.
Music gear usually doesn't make much of a difference if you don't know how to play, or don't practice very often.
There are gearheads everywhere. Lots of them are in sports, looking for the best racket, club, ball, or shoe to give them that winning edge. In fencing, the sport in which I compete, the gearheads are easily sucked into discussion on the virtues of various sword handle designs—French, Belgian, Russian, Italian, American, Visconte, etc. It doesn't make much difference what kind of handle you use if your feet are slow, or you can't put your point on the target, or you can't make an effective parry.
Sports gear usually doesn't make much difference if you can't keep your eye on the ball. Laser guided rackets and clubs aren't available & yet. And when they arrive, the gearheads will have them, but performance in the new laser game will remain a function of conditioning, skill, and strategy.
There was a newspaper story recently about the initiative in Wyoming to connect every schoolroom in the state to the Internet, including a six-student school that meets in a mobile home. The author pointed out that those students were more interested in working the ranch than surfing the net.
Educational gear doesn't make much difference without a challenging lesson plan developed by an understanding teacher.
So, when it comes to gear, how different is reliability and maintenance than music, sports, or education? If you're a gearhead, it's time to grow up and work on the fundamentals instead of looking for some technology to save your skin. When you grow beyond the gearhead stage, our directory can help you in your search for the best software to execute your reliability strategy. MT