Leadership

Sanity Check: Is IT still a profession worth recommending to the next generation?

After TechRepublic's Jason Hiner wrote about the split between IT strategy and operations last week, several IT pros suggested that IT may not be worth recommending as a career to the next generation. See why Jason disagrees and which segments of IT he sees as having a bright future.

In response to my column last week about the split between IT strategy and operations, several TechRepublic members responded that they have become disillusioned with the way the IT profession has developed and that they have a hard time recommending it as a career path to the next generation.

TechRepublic member johnm23357 wrote, "I am glad my children don't want to go into IT. They saw their old man get long-term laid off in 2002 and decided that was it. My painful experience showed them that IT does not have the stability that would cause my kids to obtain a 4 year degree in any of the engineering professions... My children aren't alone either, many of the college students in the USA feel the same way. Why go into engineering or IT? We don't treat our engineers and programmers particularly well in this country. In this scenario they [are] laid off at the drop of a hat." Member Ron McNew wrote, " A few weeks ago, I had a couple of kids ask me what they should do for a career 'when we grow up.' I found that I couldn't look them in the eye and counsel them to acquire any skill. I've seen too many get deemphasized, right-sized, off-shored, outsourced, or outright replaced. I finally told them to try as many different activities as they could, and to keep track of them; especially keep any awards, certifications, or degrees that look good on paper, but not get stuck on any one thing. That way, when the time comes, they might recognize an opportunity when they see one, and know whether or not it was something they could do well, and be able to switch to the next one ASAP.

The question of why anyone in their right mind would want to become a technologist is an important one, but it won't affect next quarter's bottom line, and will not be addressed until it does."

I wasn't completely surprised to hear these opinions, since plenty of techies have experienced layoffs or general career turmoil during the consolidation period of the past five to six years, and it's natural for many of them to feel burned by the experience. However, I have to admit that I was disappointed to hear the pessimism about the future. That's probably because I still view IT as an enjoyable and rewarding career -- even though I don't work directly in IT any more. I also happen think that there's a great future in IT, and I will explain why and where I think the best opportunities are.

Sanity check

IT has a bright future because technology is pervading every aspect of culture, commerce, and life, and there are still many places on earth where technology will be spreading in the coming decades. Plus, there are still lots of inefficient processes in the world that will be automated, streamlined, and simplified by technology, and the world will need engineers to design the solutions, project managers to implement them, and technical professionals to support them.

Despite my optimism, I also believe that the IT profession is still in the midst of a major transition. One of the reasons the IT profession is changing is that users are getting much smarter (yes, you read that correctly -- that's not a joke). A lot of the IT jobs in the past decade have involved technologists translating computer technologies to Baby Boomers and cleaning up the messes made by the technologically illiterate.

The next generation of workers -- especially in the United States, Canada, and Europe, but also in a variety of other places across the globe -- have grown up with computers, cell phones, and other gadgets. We will not be publishing many clueless user stories about them in the future. They will not require as much training to learn new technologies, they will not require as much on-going technical support, and they will not only be open to new solutions but they will often push for them.

This dynamic is changing the IT industry and the scope of IT careers. As a result, I think there are five IT job roles that will see greater demand and prominence in the future:

1. Software engineer -- While there are lots of low-level coding jobs that are being commoditized and more code being modulized and reused, there will be an increasing number of software engineering jobs that will involve conceptualizing, planning, and developing software to power increasing numbers of things, from your oven to your wristwatch to your sneakers. 2. Systems architect -- As internal IT departments focus more on overall direction and strategy, they will need highly capable systems architects to take business goals and strategies and design the specific technical infrastructure to meet those goals. The systems architects will need to be able to collaborate and communicate well with the IT operations group and/or any managed services providers. 3. NOC engineer -- As more applications and systems (via virtualization) are moved to the data center, there will be a much greater need for NOC engineers to run more and larger data centers and command centers. Some of this will come at the expense of decreasing numbers of local network administrators, especially in small and medium businesses. NOC engineering will become a very competitive field and will demand cutting edge skills and continual education. 4. Project manager -- Most IT organizations are realizing that projects dominate their workload and having good people who know how to organize and run projects -- and communicate about them -- is critical to IT's success. My hope is that in the future, IT projects will become smaller and more frequent to help companies stay nimble. Nevertheless, good project managers will still be critical in an environment with fewer and more frequent projects, because they will need to be the ones to keep track of everything. And there will still be a few giant projects that make PMs indispensable. 5. Information security specialist -- This is not a job title but an umbrella term to cover IT security professionals. More and more data is moving online. More and more organizations are developing a fluid, borderless IT infrastructure. More and more hackers are going professional and joining with organized crime to steal data and extort and launder money from their victims. Those factors are leading to a crisis in information security that will demand new solutions from the security specialists. And as the world increasingly goes digital, information security professionals will be the digital security guards of the future.

How do you feel about the future of the IT profession? What IT jobs do you think have the best future? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

365 comments
chdchan
chdchan

I recommend those IT geeks taking some psychological studies to make themselves working well with people.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Mind-numbing work, with a learning curve that's barely different from a hamster wheel. Unless you're working on fundamentals (encryption, protocols, encoding, compression, or other *science*), you won't be 'creating' anything, but merely 'servicing' the business need/desire/whim of the day. I'm not knocking business as such -- it has its problems, but that's a topic for another day -- just saying that IT (as separate from computer science), has a really bad long-term ROI. Really bad.

gschaffer
gschaffer

In my opinion you get into the field because you have a passion for it and it makes you happy to wake up everyday. There are so many different areas to specialize in. That is the key to a sucessful future in this field. Specialize in a specific area and be more knowledgeable than most others in your field and you will not have a problem if you are a value to your customers.

dc_nc123
dc_nc123

i think i IT is a good Profession..!!

joydeepd
joydeepd

What about technical writers? Do you think tech writers would be around and continue to be an integral part of IT as they are now?

ajtbone
ajtbone

There is no real protection for many people in the IT industry as a worker. The best would be to get a wide knowledge base and start your own business. Even though users are becoming smarter and more knowledgeable, it also makes them more dangerous sometimes when they try to figure things out themselves. There will always be a great need for IT. One thing that I have not seen on the West coast is the forming of Unions for IT. Atleast in Vegas,which is groing like crazy for the IT industry and is extremely underpayed. I believe that possible state liscensing and the thraet of a large international union for IT might put some power back into the hands of the workers.It is also important to produce quality work that is what's going to bring back the outsourced work from other countries. Cheaper and faster is not always more efficient and outsourceing to people in other countries to people with language and cultural differences who could careless and are thousands and thousand s of miles away are starting to hurt these big companies.

jkameleon
jkameleon

>That's probably because I still view IT as an enjoyable and rewarding career - even though I don't work directly in IT any more. You view IT as enjoyable and rewarding career exactly because you don't work directly in IT any more. Ever since the 90s, I've never met anyone actually working IT, that would reccoment IT career to anyone. Only people from management, and academia do that, because of their interests. Yea, and paid PR folks & sock puppets, of course.

neiloribe
neiloribe

oh boy, if you don't like what you have now, better find a new one. easy! :)

robertsonww
robertsonww

The people in charge of these companies are watching out for the stock holders, not the employee's. If it can be done from a remote place in the world (not hands on), for half the price (and believe me, quality does not matter) then forget-about-it.

Web-Guy
Web-Guy

IT can still be a rewarding career but a lot of that depends on the following factors: Confidence - This is the type of career where you may get bumped around a lot, so having great confidence in your abilities will help you bounce back. Passion for the field - Your passion for technology will show through and keep you interested and learning for years. That being said, this passion could be eroded if your employer keeps pushing you to produce output with 60 + hour work weeks. Workplace is critical to quality of life - I would tend to steer someone interested in this field to look for a job in the public, non-profit, or perhaps educational sectors, as these places tend to encourage more work/life balance. These places don't tend to pay as well as private industry, but some come close. Age - Let's face it, being young and sharp is a key advantage. I wouldn't recommend this field as a mid-career move unless the individual were truly brilliant. Intellect - If you are the cream of the crop, you will be sought after and have few problems keeping you job. IT is not an easy field, you will always be busy, but this is the way most of us like it. There are many other worse jobs out there. Lawyers have a horrible job, and most work long hours doing what I consider drab work. Most lawyers I know hate their jobs. IT salaries tend to pay well after you have 5+ years experience, of course it depends what track you are on. For myself, I can't imagine another career that is as interesting as IT, specifically for me Web application development. But I must admit I basically have a dream job; working for the government on fun projects, but the deadlines are often flexible. I've done my time in the private industry and in other careers, and know I got it good. However, if somebody is driven purely by earnings, I would recommend an MBA as they tend to get paid the best. Of course they probably put in long hours and must travel extensively. I think there will plenty of software development jobs in IT for the next 20 years or so. It is not clear how well A.I. will be able to handle programming tasks in the future, but I wouldn't be surprised if the human software developer gets replaced by an A.I. developer in the future. This A.I. developer will still need to be managed, but IT could be an very different field, but probably just as exciting, in 20 year.

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

Yes I would. I would also tell them to diversify and have a backup plan/strategy. Being one that was RIFed, I know what it's like to be competing with hundreds for a few jobs (it used to be the opposite). We will always need IT people. Yes, some jobs may go overseas but not all. My suggestion would be to forget the 4-year degree as they're, in my opinion, worthless. I have an AS in IE, not IT, and am right where I want to be in IT (a jack of all trades type IT person). If someone wants to go into IT they need to look hard at what interests them and if it fits them. I have been telling kids today to go into the trades - carpentry, plumbing, electrical. The pay has become pretty good and, compared to the students loans their friends will have in 4 years, they will few bills and won't be RIFed. EMD

javaphpfreelancer
javaphpfreelancer

I am an electrical engineer . but switched to IT. as a result my salary increased 1000% over a period of 8 years .more opportunities from many parts of the world for consulting .i do both day job and consulting for usa based clients

No User
No User

Business in general really needs to get it's act together when it comes to dealing with science and technology. First off the public companies are just investments/play grounds of the rich and famous. The top folks are there to get as much as they can for themselves and the company is merely a vehicle that is used to get it. Once again why not outsource sales, marketing, accounting and and all the executive jobs just like they do science and technology jobs. They have a huge negative attitude towards folks in science and technology. I think that eventually society will get it right and folks who are intelligent, creative and productive (aka... science and technology folks) will be justly rewarded. I think that day will be when society realizes that it will receive a greater benefit by doing so. I just can't recommend IT as a career to America's youth until that happens. Even with consortiums and privately owned companies they just have a very hard time dealing with IT in general. They just can't let IT folks set at the big table and take charge. They seem possessed with controlling IT and slamming us with grunt work. Jason mentioned that users are getting smarter however it's more of a case of a user interface dummying/watering things down. If you had a command line interface you would quickly find out that it is just the opposite. The GUI makes it easy and that was the point of it but it comes with a price. Keep in mind that a monkey can click on an icon. I'm not saying that it's all bad in fact there is much to be desired, my point is that it's not difficult and not a case of users getting smarter. You have folks thinking in a different way not necessarily getting smarter.

dhecksel
dhecksel

The next generation should be wary of IT - my answer is No. Even today, there are only a handful of positions for existing IT personnel to consider, and they all require years of experience: - Enterprise Architect - IT Management - IT Audit - Project Management - Sales The above are more difficult ( or do not make strategic sense ) to outsource. Do you want your Sarbanes Oxley auditor 10,000 miles away and not a US Citizen? There will be huge swings in demand in the next generation - from wanting to outsource even more, to periodic swings back to insourcing as various outsourced geographies experience political turmoil. What will happen when India and Pakistan begin talking about pointing nuclear weapons at each other again, or massing troops at each other's border? What about China and Taiwan ( or China and Japan ) getting into a serious squabble? It will be a difficult conversation to have when you have to say "our key marketing and order management systems are in the country with the "travel advisory" or worse yet, the country in that days headlines that went to war the previous day.

yyyc186
yyyc186

MBA's have no vision, morals, or ethics. They are whoring their companies entire technology advantage off to a different country so they can pay people $10.00/day while collecting huge back dated stock options themselves. In less than 10 years, the majority of IT professionals in the US will have either retired or died off. That will be about the same time we go to war with a (once third world) nation, to get our source code back.

LittleWashu
LittleWashu

I just started college with a major in Databasing Administration and a minor Software Development. After reading this article and most of the comments, I have to ask; should I change my major and minor?

sherman.meeds
sherman.meeds

Any individual involved with technology is forced to deal with the ever-increasing speed of change in technology. It isn't that the need for technological savvy people is less; the need has changed. An engineer who wants to stay on the edge of need must change as fast and in the right directions. That means a constant refiguring of skills and abilities as they are geared towards the current technology in use. Cell phones are a good example. programmers could be programming with the cell phone market with the future thick-client-phone-with-internet in mind. Hardware people will still be needed to support the infrastructure involved in these phones, although most of this support now lies within large companies. I would recommend to any student to GO IT, but be careful to go in the right directions. One obvious recommendation - Web development will continue to be done in the future with more focus on phone access, but the web developer will need to incorporate more sophisticated technology than just HTML or active pages.

loismfisher
loismfisher

Most professions involve the application of mature technologies, methodologies, or processes. The important thing is the intelligent and efficient adaption of the practice to a particular situation. Why should IT be any different? What you're really saying is the boom is over. Nonetheless, IT or another engineering discipline is still a terrific training for the future. Even if someone does not work as an engineer for very long, the general technical knowledge and credibility of the credential is invaluable. We need good thinkers. Don't reduce an IT engineering degree to its most literal meaning. Better yet, try talking to those of us who must get a job after a layoff without an engineering degree. Then you would think twice about your advice.

rob mekel
rob mekel

There are jobs in IT that will gain more importance. Like Jason said IT-security will become more and more important as more data is moved online. As an example there is the banking business. We don't want that to be insecure. The IT-projectmanager will be there alltho it will transfer to a more general-projectmanager in time. IT and business-development will gain more importance to companies. Special as information engineering in the field of business processing will get more important. In the same line IT-architects and NOC-engineers will gain importance and need. On the managing IT-processes the ITIL-processes will be very important now and in the future as it directly relates to on going business and disturbtion of this if changes and new developments are not closely watched and managed. There still will be the need of software engineers but the need will decrease alltho the level of skill will increase. So: YES, I would recommend a job in IT but only on the high-level end of IT. Rob

ardilag
ardilag

Well, you have to teach your kids to not depend on their jobs, People must be looking for financial independency, not for a job employee/selfemployee dependency.

jon_maguire
jon_maguire

Some of us enjoy IT, and really couldn't face doing anything else (eg sales/marketing etc) There will always be a future for those who are truly interested in technology for technology's sake, but as for recommending it as a money making wizz, i say keep out the career IT wannabes and leave it to the geeks of this world.

draftpoint
draftpoint

Innovation is the key to success! You must remain flexible, and evolve with your business in developing new ways to enhance its performance & meet its goals. Process development and enhancement are critical areas to continually monitor for improvement so that methods can be streamlined for efficiency. Always keep an eye open & an ear tuned to those who work above, along side, or beneath you because that opportunity only knocks once. Although, I'm not in the IT field, per se, I do have the educational background to speak from experience that having a well-rounded skill set, good attitude, and communicative qualities can really help you go the extra mile. Being an aerospace layoff casualty years ago, I'm in a better position now (thanks to the qualities mentioned above) than I would have been had I taken a different approach. Take my advice... learn all you can from your peers, your mentors, and anybody willing to give, because while you may not have all the answers every time, knowing where to find it is what matters.

vincent.fong
vincent.fong

Hi Jason, I am disappointed with your explanation particularly as regards "The next generation of workers ... will not require as much training to learn new technologies". It is precisely because of such irresponsible thinking and views that corporation and businesses are choosing not to invest in the continuing training of (IT) staff, requiring many instead to keep up their skills at their own expense only to be left high and dry when the inevitable lay-off come around. I think IT has a future only if corporations and business realise that they need to invest in the skills of IT staff if they want to reap the benefits of what (emerging and leading edge) technologies have to offer. They need to be strategic about their investments in such training to ensure there is ROI in the training by having staff that are skilled to be able to respond quickly to increasing dynamic environments of business brought about by fast changing waves of new technologies. Vincent Fong

vincent.fong
vincent.fong

Hi Jason, I???m disappointed with your explanation particularly as regards ???The next generation of workers ??? will not require as much training to learn new technologies???. It is precisely because of such irresponsible thinking and views that corporation and businesses are choosing not to invest in the continuing training of (IT) staff, requiring many instead to keep up their skills at their own expense only to be left high and dry when the inevitable lay-off come around. I think IT has a future only if corporations and business realise that they need to invest in the skills of IT staff if they want to reap the benefits of what (emerging and leading edge) technologies have to offer. They need to be strategic about their investments in such training to ensure there is ROI in the training by having staff that are skilled to be able to respond quickly to increasing dynamic environments of business brought about by fast changing waves of new technologies. Vincent Fong

erikmidtskogen
erikmidtskogen

Software engineering is like a lot of other fields, in that you can be successful and make good money, but only if you're really into it as a learning experience. I've managed--knock on wood--to avoid even a single day of unemployment over the last fifteen years only because I use nearly all of my spare time to study and empower myself with knowledge of the latest API's, frameworks, tools, Design Patterns, and best practices. The best software engineers are many times as productive as your typical "back-room" coder who scoffs at OOP, proudly proclaims his ignorance of Design Patterns, and still pines for the halcyon days of coding in Fortran for a PDP-11 at a university laboratory back in the late 1970's. (And who hasn't met a few of those?) Although I respect the wisdom and experience of those members of the greybeard set who do not embrace change, you have to put yourself in your employer's position. Why would you pay one person to do something in a way that is slow and results in a product that cannot be changed quickly, when you can have someone do the same thing in half the time with results that are quick and easy to change, and with the the help of TDD, might even have fewer defects? So, the bottom line is the bottom line. If you empower yourself to help a business owner to make or save a huge pile of money, you'll always be in demand. I'm not some market-worshiping, laissez-faire Republican, but anyone who lives and works in today's dog-eat-dog 'Murka needs to think of himself or herself as a product and adapt himself or herself to the current labor market--or expect to end up unemployed.

techrepublic
techrepublic

Perhaps "mind-numbing" is the wrong phrase: I don't mean that the core challenges are not intellectually stimulating -- they are, but from what I've seen, the surrounding context is often pretty energy-draining, esp. if you care a lot about quality. Lifelong learning is a requirement of success and happiness in any industry, but I can't think of another one that not only routinely devalues yesterday's experience to zero so quickly, but both requires AND disvalues the education / certifications you have to obtain at your own expense in order to get the recognized experience in the first place. Sysiphus on the mobius strip made of Dilbert cartoons, so to speak. It's far from always being that bad, to be sure, but it's also far from never being like that -- perhaps much worse for non-degreed techs or sysadmins in smaller companies than for SEs/CSs with grad degrees. I've pretty much left IT, as such -- at least the dedicated SE end of things. The comments about the value of data analysis, business intelligence and analytical skills are spot-on for me (I have the background, thankfully).

rclark
rclark

In most companies, the total number of IT workers is so low that it wouldn't be effective. As for starting your own business, more power to ya if ya can. But you better have lots of capital. Every hour, every day, of every week, you will be worrying about making payroll, getting your customers to pay up, getting Uncle Sam his check, making sure you have the right mix to fix what ever you forgot to plan for. It's not a life for the timid for sure. But if you think it is for you, spend 1 week accounting for every hour you are at work. Put down on paper every thing you do each hour. Then honestly evaluate each hour independently. Was what you accomplished during that hour worth your hourly wage (or if you are salaried yearly/2080)? Once you get through a couple of days, you'll start appreciating the contractor who has to justify his existance every minute of every day to people who think he is overpaid, underworked, and mostly clueless.

reisen55
reisen55

Quality of work does not matter, third world and COSTS ONLY MATTER. SHAREHOLDER VALUE MATTERS. (As if IT has an impact, directly, on shareholder value). IT is a cost of doing business, not a profit center. Good people come expensive, but again that does not matter - " good " is relative and equates to salary in Bangalore.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They let us propeller heads have a lot of power, as a group we made a complete arse of it. I watched my IT manager and his bosses destroy a company I was working at. The idea that you can only be creative in science and technology is well bollocks, the idea that all S & T people are creative is also bollocks. I can see why the busisness types have got it in for you, they don't for me though. I can be very arrogant in my area of expertise but I don't think it suddenly makes me a gifted business man. You rescued yourself a bit with the last paragraph, but the others were drivel.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

You state: [i]First off the public companies are just investments/play grounds of the rich and famous. The top folks are there to get as much as they can for themselves and the company is merely a vehicle that is used to get it.[/i] And yet you complain about the outcome: [i]They just can't let IT folks set at the big table and take charge.[/i] With statements like your first quote, is such an outcome really any wonder?

rclark
rclark

If you truly know Database Design and you can run SQL interactively, whatever the DBMS, then you are 80 percent of the way to a data miner. The other 20 percent is the business intellegence and that you have to get from the company or industry you work for. So absolutely learn all you can from all of them. A good SQL analyst can pick up a new DBMS with a couple of days in the manuals or help system. What they can't do is correct for bad design in the DBMS and they can't make the database run on a platform that won't support the indexes. So you are going to always have to learn new platforms and tools, but the data and the design will be so similar that your experience is conserved across time and implementations. I have designed and programmed in oracle, mysql, db2, and mssql. All of them have approximately the same types of interfaces and tools. Some are easier to use than others. But the data is the same, techniques learned on one usually transfer to the others with only slight modifications or substitutions.

fcarr
fcarr

If you don't have a passion for it, find something else to do. The occasional good money isn't worth the instability and stress. If you are in your early 20's and if you do have a passion for working with databases then, yes, stick with it. Your newly minted skills and your naive willingness to work long hours will get you a good job, at least for a few years. If you're in your late 20's/early 30's or later going back to school, then I'd recommend a different career path unless your goal is to move onto a management path within a few years. Ageism will kill your career too quickly otherwise. If your passion is strong enough you can deal with this situation although it's essential to have a strong savings account, good fallback income plans, and a spouse who makes good money/benefits and who doesn't work in IT.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

You'll have noticed that not too many of the negative responses actually had any practical, alternate solutions? Perhaps if the question had been phrased: * In what industry can you work where you're guaranteed a job for life, in your local area, with huge salary and the best conditions, surrounded by people who are always fun and interesting? Then maybe some people would have been more open to the realities of the world. Oh, there were some ideas. No doubt. Brilliant ideas like working in construction. Which, of course, has never experienced a downturn in its entire history. . Or plumbing. Now, if you can stand working in sh1t for years before you make any money, then I'd suggest you'll enjoy a better lifestyle and make more money sticking with IT.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Databases are only becoming more important as more data is organized with DBMS systems and more of the Web is driven by databases on the backend, so I think that's a great specialty for the future, and one that could have easily made my top 5.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I was talking about the natural evolution of the industry and how the next generation will change things. I am a big proponent of training. Although too many organizations (and IT pros) just think of training as sending someone to a $10K class. Even budget-strapped IT departments can commit to training and make a priority. It can be as simple as allowing or even requiring IT pros to block out a couple hours a week to take advantage of free resources on the Web, such as watching Webcasts, reading articles, participating in forums, etc. Then having the members of the department report on their "research" to other members of department during a once-a-week knowledge-sharing session. The best way to learn something is when you have to teach it to others.

No User
No User

propeller heads. I said science and technology. Every IT person knows that the bit heads / propeller heads can't be put in charge of anything. They can't even organize a program to write a program.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

However the idea that the desire for earning large amounts of money, suddenly gives you the aptitude to do so is of course bollocks. Incompetents can earn good money where resources are scarce, we saw that during our most recent boom.

brian.mills
brian.mills

I've been noticing even in my current low-level IT position that databases are a very important part of businesses these days. I just wish my schooling would have covered them, instead of being focused almost entirely on hardware and Active Directory. I feel like I missed out on some things that I needed to know. I've started teaching myself some database-related stuff so that I can be more valuable where I'm at, as well as being more viable wherever I go to next, but I'm not sure which database systems I should be focusing on. I've been learing PostgreSQL because that's what we have in our office here (corporate won't spring for a copy of MS SQL Server, even though the company is a Microsoft partner), and I've briefly used MySQL on my old Linux server at home, but things work differently in each SQL implementation. Should I be learning MS SQL, Postgres, MySQL, Oracle, some other implementation, or some combination of them all? It's so confusing trying to figure out what to study in order to stay marketable in this constantly changing field.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Could be said of yourself, certainly I have a good understanding of what IT is to business, both in ops and as product. But having seen some truly f'ing awful disasters , and not just in the dim and distant past, I don't accept that we are turning out IT people who are of course fit for business. (a good percentage of them are n't fit for IT) Personally I feel whether they sit us at the big table, or just involve us a bit earlier in the process makes little difference. One of them needs to be done though, but they need to pick people who add to the 'management' team not replace it. The prevalent view is that we are either too 'stupid' to understand business, or too unskilled and so fail to implement a business objective, (it may have ben impossible to do so). Unfortunately there's a large body of evidence, that proves this point in the general case. So treating them with contempt, won't get you me or anyone else anywhere. You'll just look like the twit who suggested moving all 5000 workstations, 50 servers with 20 years of in house software on them to another OS to save money.

No User
No User

First of all lets look at things from a different perspective. Before electronic computers were invented there cousins were invented by folks who were intelligent, creative and productive (aka... science and technology folks) albeit all the above in it's ancient form. There was the undersea find of the Greek computer and of course the abacus and many others that lead the way to the first tube based behemoth. Then on to today. To say the very least they were not invented by Managers, Sales, Marketing and Bean counter or otherwise business types. Now, As I have said I went to both a 2 year computer institute and a 4 year university majoring in computers of course. Back in the day, you had 2 directions to focus your computer studies/career. One was business with a concentration in accounting along with other business classes and the other was science with a concentration in Math. I had both. At the 2 year school the title of the degree is "Specialized Business / Computer Programing" Notice the Specialized Business. In business where IT is utilized nearly all or all of the concerns of business and the business activities are conducted using computers. The computer and all encumbering it, aka.. Software, Network and so on were the invention of the intelligent, creative and productive folks (aka... science and technology folks). So with the nearly the entirety of business or a company running on computers and this includes both the companies vendors and customers. IT folks have been thrust into a situation where even the blind can see "The Business" in the hands of IT. I know that I certainly can. It's not just the education and training far more important is the experience. I have worked for a PC manufacture, a PC and peripheral and OS distributer, 2 VARs who's combined databases were for Paper, Lumber, Tire and Real Estate and an Software Company that made a product which allowed you to use windows to run Xwindows and an HMO (health care) and financial/Banking. Now those areas of Business pretty much are part of everyones life in a big way. With all combined "I BE LERNT SOMETHIN BOUT Business". I think that most IT folks are both prepped in school/training and prepared from work experience to handle the IT side of business just as well as the other folks can handle the business side. I certainly feel that I can handle the business side as well and so can many IT folks. The bottom line is I feel adamantly confident that IT can step up to the plate and set at the big table and direct the companies IT needs "while working with the other folks to ensure the best results" while remaining in charge of directing the companies implementation of IT, Operations and all other conventions of IT.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

How does being a science and technology head make you better at business than a business head. Sure as hell doesn't make you a better bit head. We could be at cross purposes Technology in the UK is a sort of general studies type discipline. Means you can use a work sheet and text people, that sort of thing.

No User
No User

That is completely understandable.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

You posting to the IT thread as opposed to the Science & Technology must have confused me somewhat.

No User
No User

My Supervisor is the CEO and he and I meet monthly with the Chairman of the Board. The company and the CEO had to take a lot of lumps and learn the hard way for that to happen. I'm still not positioned the way I need to be. It's been a long slow process with a few surges. Those surges came after me taking flak for my comments, actions and positions and then having the chickens come home to roost. I will continue to persevere. The path to righteousness is long and hard and at times seeming like a bare knuckle bloody fist fight every step of the way. That would be my point!!!!

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

... is what you have demonstrated in your post, it's a wonder they let you sit at the big table for dinner, let alone have any participation in the operation of a company.

drowningnotwaving
drowningnotwaving

In fact (and I have been busy googling to try to find the source), in Australia it was written just a couple of years ago that plumber have the lowest retirement age of any career or profession, followed by roof tilers then builders. I am a total believer in trades versus the so-called 'professions'. Neither is inherently better or worse than the other. The cost of actually attaining a profession is becoming a barrier compared to getting paid (okay, not paid very much!) while you learn a trade. Again I saw recently (and tryig to google!!) the cross-over in terms of salary attainment of a profession versus trade doesn't happen now in Australia until you are over 40, when you take into account university fees and not earning any money if you study full time. I am also a total believer in effort+expertise=results. "Expertise" is not limited to your skill in a particular area; it has to include a continual review of what is going on around you, what you expect to go on around you in the future, and what actions you need to take to continually adapt.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

the fundamentals are the same, implementations are different. The key thing to learn is database design. How your choices impact on performance, applications that use it, scalability, data integrity... There's lots of trade offs in real systems. If you know more than one DBMS, you've got a major leg up on someone who only knows one, the differences are very instructive. PS you can download SQL Server 2005 Express for free off MS. Database wise it's fully featured, and everything you learn on it is applicable to the full version.

draftpoint
draftpoint

Brian -- Just a couple of tips: Learn all that you can to stay on top. You know that at some point the current DB software will either go belly up, or become acquired by Microsoft to stave the competition some time in the future. So, learn what you can if you have the time. You don't have to be a pro, but knowing the basic fundamentals is key! To learn quickly, buy a couple of books at your local second-hand book store (1/2 Price Books). There's one near you in the next city. Spend an afternoon browsing the computing section, and you are sure to find something that will help you. They are a great reference tool and inexpensive, too! Good luck!

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