A Case for Professional Associations
Monday, March 26, 2012
Posted by: Larry Schmitz, CCP, CMC
How to stay "In the Know"
A Case for Professional Associations
As the world seems to be scurrying to jump on the "information super highway" or leaping from "cloud to cloud", there is one fact that no one can dispute: computer technology is very much a part of everyone's life today. And its importance to all of us in our personal and professional lives is increasing everyday.
With the ongoing explosion of new technology and the "repackaging" of existing technology (remember when we called what is now "cloud computing" an "online service bureau"?- grin), even the most seasoned IT professional finds themselves struggling to keep abreast of all the latest and greatest technological developments.
From a pure technology standpoint, I suspect that most of us have found that we have gone from being experts in all aspects of IT to being "jacks of all trades and masters of few". And while all of this is going on, organizations are looking to their Information Technology group to be much more than good technicians. They are looking to their IT people to be business analysts and strategic planners. They want IT to take the lead in not just understanding the technology, but to be the leaders in managing the process of implementing that technology in a manner that will improve efficiencies, reduce cost, reduce risk and maximize the organization's return on its investment in that technology.
It is a tall mission to say the least. How do we do that?
Some ways to stay on top of this technology explosion include:
Vendor Sponsored Seminars
Attending vendor sponsored seminars and product announcements do provide access to the people with the most knowledge regarding a particular product or service. And they are FREE. However, you will only receive one side of the story.
Technology Exhibitions and Conferences
Industry exhibitions and conferences are another vehicle for amassing a lot of current and relevant information in a short period of time at a reasonable cost.
User groups bring together people who have already acquired the product or service and working together to find better ways to utilize it within their organization.
Professional associations, such as the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) are a great way for people at various levels of your organization to keep abreast of new developments in Information Technology. AITP offers an incredibly cost beneficial way for companies to acquire information in a buffet-style fashion. The advantages of AITP include:
- Our membership represents organizations large and small from a plethora of industries and professions.
- Job functions of our members range from presidents, to CIO's, to business analysts, to network technicians to educators
- Program presentations at our meetings typically offer salient topics from a technical standpoint as well as managerial topics.
- Meetings usually are held monthly at convenient locations minimizing costs and time away from work.
- Networking opportunities abound – in person at meetings and through the AITP web portal.
- Participation in AITP at the local, regional or national level affords you and your staff the opportunity for personal and professional growth as well as leadership training – if you take advantage of it.
If you are already active within your AITP chapter, chances are, you will agree with me.
If you aren't active, why not? You are paying dues. Get the maximum return on your investment by participating in your chapter and region activities.
If your chapter and/or region are not providing the benefits I described, get involved and change that. Our organization has a long history of chapters that have gone dormant, and then had resurgence because new leaders stepped forward and refused to accept the status quo. AITP, as with all volunteer organizations, is dependent on new people with new ideas and newly found enthusiasm stepping forward and taking a turn "pulling on the oars". If you are content to sit on your hands and wait for somebody else to do all the work, unfortunately, the end result is also very predictable. To quote myself, "if everybody does a little, nobody has to do a lot".
AITP has been the most dynamic forum for IT professionals for over 60 years.
Editor's note: Larry Schmitz was the 1999 AITP Association President and is the current AITP Region 5 President.