In developing a career as an IT professional, it just makes good business sense to follow the leading technology trends. Failure to do so would be tantamount to a professional liability, if not outright self-sabotage.
For many IT jobs, keeping up to date on newly emergent technologies may be necessary to even begin to perform the job. This is particularly applicable when discussing Web development.
Joel Tosi is a webmaster at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
“Because the Web changes so frequently [in terms of] what’s out there [and] what’s going on, I’m always looking around, trying to see what the new technologies are and what’s coming up,” Tosi said. “For example, we’re a Java shop here, but [we have to ask if] it make sense to look at Ruby On Rails for certain applications; whether it makes sense to look at PHP; what technologies fit in; where do you use other technologies — just to get the best overall user experience. And, if we do try to use these things, how do we incorporate them into what we’re currently doing?”
Asking these questions allows a team of IT professionals to arrive at the right solution to a problem as it emerges, giving them the capability of JIT innovation.
“What I’ve been preaching to my team, as far as our own processes, is that I want the right solution to the problem,” Tosi said. “I don’t want them to say it has to be XYZ just because we do XYZ. I need some employees that can actually see the problem for a big picture and see the best way to resolve the issue.”
In a Web-related role, keeping up to date can be particularly challenging due to the continual evolution of that space.
“As webmaster, you’re required to know more and more and more,” said Nathan Hall, webmaster for Chili Interactive. Hall explained that when the Web first emerged, there was a gap between the individuals who designed the front end of a Web site and those who engineered its back end.
“As the whole Web has grown, [that gap] is getting closed, and you’re required to know all aspects of both the front end and back end piece, which is really challenging, because as technology grows, that does, too,” Hall said. “It’s really evolving, and I’m always taking on new technology and learning it, because it’s so changing. You basically have to learn [all the] new technology and software, as opposed to focusing on learning just one, because [one] won’t get you very far.”