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Keeping Up

The trick to keeping current in IT

So, you’ve just finished your certification program/graduated from school with a degree in IT/completed a course of study on the latest technology trends. Congratulations! Now that your education is all finished, you might be wondering what you should do now. Other than finding a job, that is. Employment is critical, of course, but there are some other things you need to do as well.

Such as going back to school.

school

Just finished up your education? Great. Now keep going.

If you’ve just finished up a grueling 4 year program or spent the last several years or months of your life cramming arcane knowledge into your brain about the latest topics in IT, this statement is probably one you don’t want to hear. Unfortunately, it needs to be said: if you’re a day out of school, your knowledge is rapidly becoming obsolete, and you need to stem the flow by keeping up-to-date as much as possible.

Staying up-to-date in the field of IT is a little like bailing water out of a boat that’s sinking faster than you can save it. And the problem is, you often don’t realize that you needed to stay updated until it’s too late. Even if you do manage to stay up-to-date, you may not always pick the right thing – after all, even if you narrow IT down into sub-categories, there is no way humanly possible to stay on top of everything in your field.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. For folks who have chosen SAP, you’re very fortunate: there is a huge selection of training resources available for you to choose from, and a supportive community that can provide you with up and coming news and developments so you don’t have to miss anything. Whether you’re maintaining a system, implementing SAP for new companies, or developing add-ons for it, you must be aware of all the moving parts in your industry if you want to succeed.

Very few systems and IT fields are as robust and long-lasting as SAP. For example, programming languages seem to go in and out of style almost as quickly as the latest clothing fashions, and computing power continues on its ever-upwards trend. You may find your current skill set in demand right now – every IT job you come across may mention your specific talents – but that does not mean it will be the same case tomorrow, or next month.

You must dedicate time each week to staying current and learning new things. Even if it’s impossible to tell what the next trend will be, you must remain on the bleeding edge or else suffer the quick slide into obsolescence. The downside: you might guess wrong. It’s a risk people in IT take when they embark on this constantly shifting career path. But you still need to guess. If you aren’t ahead of the curve and ready to meet the next wave the field of IT has to offer, you risk losing your career altogether.

Aside from staying updated by following the latest blogs and publications in the IT field, you should also think about things you can do in your field to contribute to the bleeding edge. What can you offer that could make some kind of difference? What ideas do you have rolling around in your head that could benefit not just your company, but your industry? If you harness your ability to think creatively and develop new ideas, not only will you be “on top of it” as things in your field progress, but you’ll become part of the group of trendsetters that forms the “bleeding edge.” If you manage to build that kind of momentum, remember to keep it going. Don’t rest on your laurels.

One example of how it can be a disaster to become complacent is none other than Motorola. This tech giant rolled out its infamous Razr cell phone back in 2004. At that time, virtually everyone seemed to have one. But as the years progressed, the product stayed the same – Motorola’s answer to everything seemed to become “more Razrs.” Eventually, the price plummeted so much that they took heavy losses and discontinued the phone for a time. Motorola failed to stay up-to-date on what consumers wanted: feature-rich cell phones with touch screens and 3G connections. Where they left off, the iPhone seemed to pick up, and Motorola hasn’t regained its market share since then.

In the same way, you need to keep your ear to the ground about what future employers will want. Even though you have that new diploma, degree, or certificate, be careful not to let it collect too much dust before you supplement it with constant attention to growth and innovation.

*Image courtesy of Tulane Public Relations via Creative Commons

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About the Author:

Pete has been working with SAP technologies for over 10 years. He started out as an ABAP consultant and then moved on to BW where he has worked many different clients covering a wide variety of industries. "I love introducing SAP technology (especially BI) to new clients and showing them how they can go from zero to hero within their business in super fast time". Contact me on twitter @PeterMoxon