Fifteen years ago, information technology (IT) departments were viewed as "nice to have" but "not entirely necessary" departments for many businesses. Now, IT is a mission critical part of all business functions. From accounting to marketing, every aspect of any business depends on IT. It is for this very reason that achieving IT effectiveness has become such a crucial component within a constantly evolving industry. But what have the last 15 years accomplished in building out skill sets?
From “Break Stuff!” to “Don’t Touch That!”
Fifteen years ago, IT developers, engineers, and trailblazers were encouraged to break things in order to learn and build. We were treading in uncharted waters. We made mistakes, and occasionally those mistakes were a blessing in disguise– through them, we were able to learn and grow.
We’ve now come to realize the IT world is no longer a "stub your toe today, but don't do it tomorrow" environment. It is a sink or swim industry where failure is not an option.
This new mentality means now more than ever organizations need to invest in physical or virtual labs to give IT employees a chance to stub toes. An environment that gives the chance to test new developments before they are released to a business or public site is necessary. If you don't have a lab, you are putting your business at risk.
Education is Key
For an organization without lab resources, employees should use the methods below to enhance their IT skills. You need to develop your skills so that you a) don't unintentionally harm your business, and b) can remain relevant within an industry constantly seeking to improve upon IT effectiveness measures.
For seasoned veterans the following four sources provide great refresher courses on a few timeless IT principles.
YouTube: You might be thinking, "Why do you have a social media platform on an educational resource list?" Surprisingly enough, YouTube is an excellent source. There are 300 million videos uploaded to the platform on a per-minute basis. These videos cover a wide range of topics. If you need a quick tutorial or refresher, start with YouTube.
Dynamips: Dynamips is a fantastic free virtual network simulator. It is the perfect place to stub your toe or make mistakes without risking your job (or your business' reputation). Once you have learned a new skill via YouTube tutorials, test your newfound understanding on the Dynamips platform.
Slideshare: Slideshare is the go-to platform for publishing educational presentations. Depending on the presentation, you will have access to photos, videos, infographics, and additional resource links within a comprehensive Slideshare slide-deck.
CBT Nuggets: If you want to learn a new IT skill, check out CBT Nuggets. It’s a great place to learn the intricacies of new IT development and engineering tactics.
IT Effectiveness, as Defined in a Henry Ford Quote
"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." --Henry Ford
Over the last 15 years, the IT industry has drastically changed from an environment that encouraged continuous education via constructive mistakes, into an industry that requires employees to deliver perfection on the first try. With this in mind, the latter quote is true now more than ever. If you are to improve your departments IT effectiveness, i.e., successfully help them build IT skills, you must be dedicated to learning new concepts each and every day.