Technologies come and go, the purpose remains


As a Business Analyst, should I care what technology the IT department is using?

Over the years, Accounting systems, Human Resources systems, and other software applications of every variety have been written and rewritten again and again as technology has moved forward.

Data has moved from sequential tape drives to sequential disk drives to ISAM files to hierarchical CODASYL databases to relational database. Additionally, as this data was moving from place to place, it was also getting bigger, more complex, and easier to access.

Front end technologies also moved from technology to technology and from product to product. Over time, software programming languages included Assembler, FORTRAN, COBOL, Basic, PL1, C, C++, Visual Basic, PowerBuilder, .NET, Java and dozens of others.

Let’s also not forget that user interfaces have moved from text-based to graphical and the reduction in size of portable computer devices, from “shlepables”, like Osborn and PS2 to laptops of all varieties, to smartphones and tablets.

The reason I’m bringing you down technology’s memory lane is because, from a career perspective as a technical professional, this continual technological advancement forces you to make one of the following decisions regarding your career:

1. Find a technology you like that seems to have ongoing staying power, such as COBOL, and hope you can ride its wave into retirement.
2. Make the decision that, as a technologist, learning new technologies is a life-long endeavor and that your marketability will grow and shrink based on your ability to master new industry trends.
3. Sidestep technological advancement by moving into a Business Analyst, Project Management, or IT leadership position. You will certainly need to keep abreast of movements in technology, but you will not be required to develop a hands-on working knowledge of their intricacies.
4. Move out of IT into a business area you love. If you do, your technology background will serve you well because it provides you the ability to take better advantage of the technologies that are being used to support your new chosen profession.

All of these options can continually move you toward a high quality, high achievement, highly compensated profession.

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