Every Thursday at 8pm the whole locked-down population of the UK go out on their doorsteps and balconies. For one minute they clap, cheer and bang on saucepans. It’s a powerful social celebration of support for the UK NHS workers who are bravely risking their own health, fighting Covid-19. Over the weeks, the envelope of support has fanned out to many other workforce categories from the care workers to the delivery drivers.
Those who are not working at all, or who can only work from home, realise that the resilience of our societies and economies depends on those who are continuing to operate it. But recently, the oil price shock caused me to think about all the tech-sector workers, who have also been vital to us. What’s incredible are some of the things that have not happened as a result of the silent but diligent efforts of backroom tech folks.
- The oil price went negative .. and the screens did not go blank.
- The knowledge workers all went home.. and broadband coped.
- Cyber-threats mushroomed, but headline mega-attacks didn’t.
Think about all the systems analysts, programmers, UAT testers (and many other software development roles) who methodically and diligently made sure that even if the oil price ever had a minus sign in front of it, the code would handle that condition. Thank you! Its bad enough that our economies have to deal with such extreme market conditions. A loss of confidence in trading systems would not have helped our very fragile global economy.
Think about all the workers in every part of the telecoms industry, whose collective work product was so magnificent, it just coped. Honestly – if you had asked most strategic planners to brainstorm the scenario where whole populations suddenly had to work from home – I think ‘the internet crashes’ would have been the first thing on the whiteboard. It’s awesome that online remote work, play and learning is helping us all to deal with lock-down so positively and with so little interruption.
Think about all the cybersecurity people who have been rapidly reassessing the threat landscape – as changes to the way we work and live open up new vulnerabilities. And the intensive security upgrading they have been deploying to support workforces that have vacated offices to work remotely. So far this year I have not seen one of those newspaper front page stories about a major hack at a large brand name organisation. That’s the result of huge, quiet efforts to thwart the threats that we know are worsening.
The media spotlight of glory will tend to fall on the AI specialists who aid the search for vaccines and the mobile app developers who help manage social distancing. Quite right too. But we should all spare an appreciative thought for the unsung backroom tech heroes, whose continuing, diligent efforts made sure the systems ‘just worked’.