Certifying Experience: The New Frontier

With mounting concerns about the economy, finding and retaining qualified IT talent is more critical now than it’s been in nearly a decade. And with a shortage of qualified senior-level IT executives, hiring managers continue to rely on certification as a gauge of competency.

Until recently, however, virtually all IT certifications have been knowledge-based, meaning they certify an individual’s recollection of a body of knowledge by requiring a passing grade on a test. Unfortunately, these certifications rarely confirm an individual’s ability to use this knowledge successfully in practice.

A new class of certification programs for IT professionals addresses this limitation by certifying individuals based on their demonstrated competence as successful practitioners in actual engagements.

The Shift in the Nature of IT Competence

From the earliest days of IT, there has been an inexorable trend to reduce cost and increase flexibility. It manifests itself in three ways: consolidation, standardization and commoditization.

Consolidation eliminates needless replication, and standardization eliminates needless diversity. Both reduce costs and increase flexibility.

More importantly, both ultimately lead to commoditization, as vendors reap the economic benefits of larger markets and users conclude that the benefits of buying faster, cheaper and more reliable “black boxes” off the shelf outweigh whatever benefits they might obtain by customizing their own components.

This trend has several implications for the skills, knowledge and experience IT practitioners need to be successful. In the lower layers of the IT department, the most valuable skills will be those that address the need…


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