Adding to Your IT Skills and Knowledge Portfolio
I've been doing some custom blogging lately for a variety of training and certification organizations. In undertaking that work, I can't help but notice an interesting and recurring nexus of themes. In general, they add up to an exhortation to keep learning new and useful stuff if you want to keep going (and growing) in the field of IT.
To be a little more specific, I've isolated a handful of those themes that keep coming up for almost everybody who wants to encourage people to engage in what many call "lifelong learning." Here they come!
It's a good idea to keep an eye on the technology landscape and to tackle what I'll call next-door fundamentals. Let me explain: If you work with LANs, then it makes sense to learn about other networking topics, such as WANs, carrier networking, and high-speed or backbone networking.
That's because, in some sense, all of these technologies touch on, or interface with LANs. By taking a fundamentals course on one or more of these topics, you'll understand better how to bring them together with your LANs. You may also learn some things that will help you improve LAN performance, connectivity, bandwidth optimization, and more.
Put Some Cloud on It!
Everybody, everywhere is using cloud-based services of some kind or another. (Heck, even my Office 365 subscription counts on that score, and that's just one of many cloud services I use every day.) The notion of put some cloud on it is one that every IT professional should take seriously.
I'd recommend digging into the MOOC search engine and searching for cloud courses of all kinds. If you're not already cloud savvy, take a hint from the previous item and learn some cloud fundamentals first. (CompTIA's got a cert for that, and there are many other great fundamentals offerings worth exploring.)
But after that — wait for it (pun alert) — "the sky's the limit" for the number and variety of providers, topics, specialties, and so forth that you can find in Cloud-land.
Get Ahead of the Curve, Technology-Wise
There's also some advantage in trying to get ahead of the curve, technology-wise. If you work in LANs (to continue the earlier illustration), then it might make sense to look at really high-speed LAN technologies (these days that means 40Gbps and up) and try to learn how they work, where they are in terms of market readiness, who the players are, and how much this stuff costs.
Sooner or later what's bleeding edge, or "in the making" right now, will become mainstream. So you might as well get familiar with it sooner, right?
Automation Skills Will Always Be in Demand
If there's one trend in IT that we all know too well, and sometimes fear (with ample justification), it's the ongoing and growing importance of automation. Who's least likely to be automated out of a job? People with automation skills will always be in demand.
Look at your IT area, and start learning more about related automation tools, languages, and platforms. Even if you don't become an automation specialist, you can't help but get better at your job by knowing how to put computing to work to handle repetitive, periodic, and recurring tasks.
IT Is About Process and Procedure
Don't forget that IT is as much about process and procedure as it is about tools, technologies, and platforms. It's a great idea, therefore, to learn at least something about topics such as project management, IT process frameworks (ITIL, COBIT, and so forth), and governance.
This will help you understand how management thinks, especially at the VP and C-Levels. It could also enrich your career significantly, and give you some alternate growth paths if hard-boiled technology nuts-and-bolts lose their luster for you, work-wise.
If you put one or more of these explorations into practice, and start doing some learning, then your career can't help but benefit as a result. Tell �em, "Ed sent me!"