Monday, January 8, 2007

Specialize to Survive

The Idaho Business Review had a terrific feature article in this week's edition on how Idaho technology firms are coping with the shortage of software engineers.

For those who don't know, in addition to my company I run a business networking organization in the Boise area called Treasure Valley Consultants' Network. In recent blog posts for this organization, I have been calling for member and non-member consultants to think about their respective businesses and find ways to specialize and focus in on specific industries. After all, clients need to be drawn toward something. If they are presented with an "all things to everyone model" they will have a difficult time finding and validating a need you can fill.

The reason I've been almost evangelical of specialization is because I discovered that this is the only way to survive in our economy. While this epiphany isn't groundbreaking and I'm sure any first-year marketing student can tell you the same, the challenges consultants and technology firms face are no different.

The article essentially reported that with most of the lower-level IT jobs being outsource overseas, technology firms are demanding the engineers that walk through their doorway have specialized skills that will support innovation. The printed edition of the Idaho Business Review included an interview with an executive of local IT firm. He said that the new software engineer must do more than just be good at coding. In order for them to succeed, he or she needs to understand the business drivers behind the technology and not implement technology for technology's sake.

In my own company, I knew that in order for me to survive and remain relevant in this economy I must specialize and focus on a specific industry. That is why I have chosen the IT field, more specifically software and web application development. The growth potential is there as well as the need as indicated in the article (i.e. - the business drivers behind technology). I feel that if I can support the industry with user-centered design and usability testing services, I can be a part of the innovation that is home-grown here in the states while other IT services can be outsourced.

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