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It was thirty years ago today...

Thursday, July 24, 2008   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Mark Kleine
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It was thirty years ago today...

No, it's not the start of a Beatles song, or the start of an MTV retrospective, but it represents the span of time that I've been involved in both the IT industry and in AITP. Way back in 1978, I was one of the participants (and winners) in a contest similar to the events that AITP sponsors today. During a recent address to the AITP students in Memphis, this theme was used to prepare these students and our professional members for their own 30 year career in the IT Industry.

In my own example, I've seen the state of the art change a number of times. My first lessons involved punch card, paper tape and home built computers. From there, we used cassette tapes, magnetic tapes, 8", 5.25" and finally 3.5" floppy disks. Currently we store data on hard disks, organic memory and flash drives. The network connectivity in 1978 afforded us a 110 bit data transfer rate to make our teletypes hum through a 25 pin serial connection cable.

We started with assembler and BASIC languages, and now the languages and packages used to support our operations are too numerous to mention, and are considered obsolete in a manner of months.

Currently, our expectations of network connectivity allow me to prepare this article and submit it wirelessly while traveling 75 miles per hour down a highway, watching a live CNN video.

What has remained constant is the organization we call the Association of Information Technology Professional (AITP). Yes, the name has changed 2 or 3 times. Yes, the benefits have been updated. However, this group is still the only organization that saw the need to build the managerial and leadership skills of IT professional and provide opportunities for social networking almost 60 years ago. This continuous improvement of our IT professionals have made this industry what it is today. What hasn't changed is the way that this organization grows and gains new members. Numerous surveys have been done and every one proves that the majority of current members joined because of a personal contact from a current member.

While I'm not prepared to speculate on what the IT professionals of 2038 will be doing, or using, I am confident of two things.

* First, the IT professionals of 2038 will NOT be using the PHP, and .net systems we're developing today. They will be working with the technology developed in early 2037, and talking about the 'good old days' of 2020...

* Second, the IT professional of 2038 will still need managerial and leadership training, will still need personal social networking opportunities and will be still be looking to organizations like AITP to provide those benefits.

What WE need to do is to make sure that this organization is still strong, viable and growing in the year 2038. Total overall membership numbers have been extremely flat over the past 5 years. While this allows the organization to survive, but to meet the needs of current and future members, AITP needs to grow and to continue growing. Since the IT professional market has been extremely dynamic, we gain members and drop members at about the same rate.

What WE need to do, is to give our fellow IT professionals the same opportunities that we've had, by reaching out to them and getting them interested in AITP. We've seen through the research that the majority of us joined due to a personal contact. What I'm asking each of you is to 'make those personal contacts'. I'm sure some of you are asking "What can I do"?

* Invite a co-worker or colleague to attend an AITP meeting with you next month.

* Encourage a co-worker or colleague to become a member by visiting the AITP Join Page.

* Contact other AITP members outside of the normal meeting schedule to share, learn and grow in the IT professional arena.

* Visit the Professional Promotion Page and Student Promotion Page to become familiar with the documents available that talk about AITP membership. Print some of these out and pass them on to IT professionals that you associate with.

* If you haven't been to an AITP meeting in recent history, please attend, to allow you some of the opportunities to grow and share.

* Contact your chapter leadership and offer to help build your local chapter to provide the opportunities for others.

Many thanks to the thousands of you that spread the story of AITP every day, and I encourage you to keep spreading this story for the IT professionals of 2038. Chapters thrive off of the energy of their members.

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