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Myth: IT's Golden Days are in the Rearview Mirror

Published
  • October 01 2005, 1:00am EDT

Spotlights periodically illuminate the current state of IT professionals' low morale and assert that IT is past its prime. Considering job losses, performance pressures, globalization, commoditization and industry-wide standardization, it seems logical to buy into this myopic computation. The statement that IT's golden days are in the rearview mirror is a myth. Certainly the sands have shifted, but more opportunities await computer skills than we can even imagine. IT is still a goldmine, but for some the vein has shifted. Here we look at revitalizing the IT professional's career.

The centrifuge has begun. For the dynamic and competent, the hurdles are falling. Wages are on the rise again (11 percent in Silicon Valley in 2004). Leaders are in demand to install dynamic teams; to lead by example; to remove hurdles that stifle progress; to transform a culture of fear and intimidation to that of creativity and collaboration, from secrecy to problem solving, from closed networks to networking the best skills on the planet.

If you are not valued in your environment, go where you will be. To improve results, enterprises sell off divisions to raise cash or lay off employees to show cost savings. Skills or contributions no longer insulate professionals. Don't let such dynamics stifle success or attitude. A failed project is not a skills failure. Failing to learn is. Funding, resources, deadlines and targets may be unrealistic or out of your control. Don't victimize yourself for system failure. Instead, seek skills and certification, and be communicative and positive. Embrace reality and chart success.  Aligning IT with business is a major success factor.

Evolving markets are creating new opportunities driven by market valuation, monitoring of critical success factors, analysis of key performance indicators and active management of strategic elements into a real-time zone. Competitive factors and compliance requirements leave little to chance. These new needs require new tools and IT skills.

Alignment of IT with business mission requires integrating business rules and technical infrastructure. The difference between winning and losing will depend on compilation of high quality data, aggregation and analysis, global integration, triggers for irregularities and swift action. In this environment where the enterprise must deliver performance, IT is vital to operational excellence. Your teamwork, negotiation, project management and communication skills can open the doors to lead such projects.

Mine opportunities for enhancing IT functions in the enterprise silos: finance, marketing and distribution. Or, specialize in an area of interest with vendors who focus on tools for business performance, analytics, reporting or data warehousing. Or pursue your passion in solving problems for a vertical market: finance, healthcare and so on. Pick the area that interests you and specialize.

Consider the following in your IT career progress of building your own brand: resolve to be the best on the planet in the job you pick. Invest in education and training. Build skills; get certified. Earn a reputation for skillful execution: provide quality deliverables. Offer timely delivery. Stay within budget. Communicate. Earn trust. Get an industry presence. Become visible. Speak at trade shows. Write in trade journals. Present at user group sessions. Volunteer at a center of excellence in your area. Host a Web chat and demonstrate your expertise on Web boards. Go the extra mile. Build your network. Establish a team of mentors and peers. Become a mentor. Collaborate, reward, recognize. Continuously improve. Stretch. Set new benchmarks. How? Anticipate, research, dream. Ignite enthusiasm.

The future of IT is bright. The disciplined IT skill set - precision programming, estimating specifications-based scope of work, specifications-driven design of deliverables, project management skills to integrate resources, testing methodology, logging progress and error classification - are valuable and transferable as long as they are up to date. If you have tripped and fallen, rise and climb again. If you are flying high, soar!  

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