prognosticatin’ for the win

Inspired by ComputerWorld, courtesy of membox

As someone in the industry who would be considered a techie vs a business analyst or other “soft” role I LOVE hearing how unimportant my existence is to any given project. I LOVE hearing how I need to be more flexible and that I need to learn how to make the system fit the user and not vice versa. Of course they’re absolutely right – computers and technology at large must, ultimately, serve the needs of the user. This is what one would call the “No shit, Sherlock” principle. That said, you have to know how to use/fix/change the shit in the first place in order to properly and effectively mold it into something useful.

There is much more emphasis on the business domain and on project management skills than on the technical skills,” says Kate Kaiser, an associate professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee. In September 2005, Kaiser led a Society for Information Management (SIM) study of 104 CIOs to determine their skills needs through 2008. She expects the top 10 skills identified to remain in the top 12 by 2010.

er… yeah. Because CIO’s are well-known to be intelligent, tech-savvy, forward-thinking people and not just the only person in Senior Management who can make a pivot table in Excel.

IT professionals who will survive and perhaps thrive in 2010 will expand their knowledge base and stretch beyond their comfort zones. Those who don’t will find job opportunities in niche areas.

I concur. Assuming you define niche as “any job that requires knowledge of technology or the implementation thereof.”

The ComputerWorld article even lists what will be the hot and cold career paths for budding technolites in their slack-jawed little world of tomorrow. Among their “hot” jobs are Systems and Network Design – both of which are skill-intensive careers assuming your goal is to, you know, be good at your job. I don’t disagree that those particular jobs will be in great(er) demand in the future, but keep in mind the premise of the article. Either they have no clue what those jobs actually entail or they just contradicted themselves. The incongruities don’t end there, mind you, they list programming (twice), QA, Support/Help Desk and a nebulous “operations” career in the cold category. I’m not sure, exactly, how they think organizations are going to operate in this magical future, but it obviously doesn’t rely on people who are experts in servers, workstations, hardware or software.

… Revelation! That must be the point of their little ego stroke masquerading as journalism. There’s some amazing new technology that will become mainstream between now and 2010 that will completely eliminate computers, software and the people who know how to make them work!

If only that was the joke.

These are the same small-minded “big thinkers” that brought the ruin that is dot.bomb on the industry. I’m sure they truly believe that there’s some one size fits all solution to every computing task ever. It’s the same kind of dogmatic bullshit you find with Apple and Linux die hards that extol the cure-all virtues of their particular cult.

Don’t get me wrong – business acumen isn’t a BAD thing to have, nor are business people the red menace threatening the very lives of the skilled professional. I take offense to the slant of the article and I firmly believe the conclusions drawn and the experts considered in its writing to be off their rockers. You know what actually will be the hot employee of the future? People who can tear down and rebuild a standard PC (or mac, as they’re almost interchangeable now), cap a CAT5 line correctly AND explain those processes to a layperson with a complete transfer of knowledge.

That’s less business-skill and more people-skill. Knowing everything is great – being able to teach someone else everything? That’s pretty much the greatest thing ever.