By Marc Resnick
Anyone ever seen “The Desk Set”? It’s a light romantic comedy from 1957 starring Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. Spencer Tracy plays an IE, which makes it personally appealing. He is a bit of an odd character, but smart and very nice. That probably describes lots of IEs .
But as soon as his role becomes known to the employees, they are all afraid of him eliminating their jobs. I guess in 1957 that was what most IEs did – make transactional workers more productive so fewer of them are needed. And that is just what he did. They all get their pink slips near the end of the movie. Of course, it being a comedy, the automation goes horribly wrong and the people need to jump back in to save the day. But it is still an old stereotype of IE.
That’s not what 21st century IEs do. All the jobs that can be automated either already have been or have already gone offshore. When IE is applied to high tech work we help make employees more innovative, creative, and collaborative. It’s a whole new world now. We need a 2012 movie that shows the modern IE.