I was called out by Jeff Hicks regarding his new meme on "The Next Big Thing" in IT.  His post dealt with the increase in virtualization as hardware becomes more powerful and that the network will become the bottleneck that drive speed is now.

 

I’d like to diverge a bit from what I think other’s ideas and responses will be and offer my opinion on what I think "The Next Big Thing" in our industry should be.

 

In large part, our industry is focused around technical advancements.  Whether it is software or hardware advances, we know that change is constant.  I’m not going to hazard a guess as to "The Next Big Thing" in regards to technology.  My contribution to this meme is my vision and hope for the IT Pro community at large. 

 

My view of "The Next Big Thing" is the development of the IT Pro community.  There are efforts to support user groups and local IT communities (examples: LOPSA and Culminis), but as Greg Shields noted in his column on The State of IT Conferences, that it appears that IT Conference attendance has dropped.  Other areas of IT have not noticed this decline (particular the development community – .NET Rocks Show on Building Technical User Communities).  In the development community, not only have free or low cost community events become more popular, but attendance at paid conferences  is also rising.

 

I hope to see the increase in a sense of community in the IT Pro world.  There are currently community efforts that focus on specific technologies (e.g. the PowerShell community), but I think IT Pros need to reach across technological divides and connect with other IT Pros.  There are many things that IT Pros do that transcend specific technologies: task automation, user support, documentation, training, project planning, and more.  Additionally, networking with IT Pros that work with different technologies will only improve one’s awareness and ability to respond to situations in their current and future work environments. 

 

As I see it, the development of the IT Pro community can lead to several key benefits:

  • An increase in professional development opportunities.  As local members of a community have opportunities to present on topics, they gain a better understanding of the topic and have a chance to improve their presentation skills, and the community gains from the experience of the presenter.
  • An opportunity to increase one’s professional network.  By interacting with other members in the local, national, and international community, one can develop contacts with people with expertise in areas other than one’s own area and provide resources to draw on in unfamiliar situations.
  • Increased legitimacy as a profession.  By belonging to a user group or professional organization, outside perception of IT Pros by management and executives will improve, as communities and professional organizations lend themselves to the development of standards of behavior and professionalism and can be self-policing of those standards.
  • Provides a low barrier to entry for new members of the profession.  User groups and professional communities provide people new to the profession with access to experienced members, who could become mentors or advisors, as well as providing insight into the job field greater than what one might see in their current role.

I’m sure there are additional benefits to user groups and professional communities, and I am interested in your thoughts.

 

What do you think is "The Next Big Thing"?



Comments

  1. 1
    Brian
    October 5th, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I agree with you Steve. Since I have started listening to the podcast I have become a member of LOPSA and am helping to get a chapter in our area (Pittsburgh is actually pretty hard to get a lot of people involved). I see the same benefits as you when it comes to networking with other IT professionals.

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