You absolutely would not risk your health, reputation, or money going to people who were not professional doctors, lawyers, and accountants. However, many organizations regularly gamble with information technology that could lead to life threatening stress, costly litigation, and bankruptcy.
Unlike other professional services, information technology is not tied to an institution like insurance, courts, or government. There is little formal education required and no ongoing learning that is mandatory with other professions via Continuing Professional Education (CPE). While virtually every technology firm touts “certified” on their website, what does that really mean? The fact remains:
Few technology firm owners are competent.
Often the main person you depend upon for implementing and supporting technology for your business has limited education and no verified learning since. Ask the owner of your IT services firm these two questions:
- What is your degree, where was it from, and what year?
- When and what was your last CPE?
You’ll be astonished to find most owners don’t have a 4 year degree in technology or business. Also, the online webinar last week about some manufacturer’s latest product doesn’t count as skills growth or learning. Some people may argue that technology owners shouldn’t be required to keep current because it’s not their role. Nonetheless, the technology billionaires who achieved their success without a degree can be counted on one hand. In an industry that is now updating products and services every three months, how can anyone responsibly advise customers without annual training?
In 1989, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Tulsa. That might as well have been a lifetime ago in technology and a few subscriptions to trade rags would not have made an accomplished authority today. Since 1994, I have had a specialization as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional. Recently, 70-347 Enabling Office 365 Services was added to my transcript for a firm accreditation held by no other state provider as described in “Oklahoma Customers Strike Gold in the Cloud“.
While I don’t provide mainline support, customers appreciate dealing with an expert that can demonstrate and help evaluate vital technology for their business. They also recognize a well-rounded business leader growing a firm 20% per year that can offer business insights for them as well.
Fortunately for customers, the technology industry has broadened forcing service providers to focus on a niche, as no firm can “do it all” any longer. Some of my peers have comparable or better qualifications, but the vast majority of competitors are led by lacking and irrelevant skills of a past era.
Customers should know that certifications like Microsoft Certified System Engineer are no longer valid.
While this post may be controversial and seen as bashing the competition, it’s unknowing customers that are most at risk. Many online backup customers come to us following a data loss, just like managed services and cloud computing customers come to us after security breaches or significant downtime. Even if you’re happy with your current provider, you should ask the two questions above. If you don’t like the answer contact me for a better perspective.