I make my living as a consultant and a general technologist. I credit my success to the fact that I have never been afraid to pick up any product, language or platform needed to get the job done. While Microsoft technologies I my mainstay, I have done work on mainframe and UNIX platforms and have worked with a wide variety of database engines. Each one has it’s use and most times it is less expensive to find a way to communicate with an existing system than to replace it.
So what are the main benefits of expending the effort to learn a new technology?
- New ways to solve problems
- Accelerate development
- Advise clients and get new business opportunities
By new technology I mean ones that you haven’t had experience with before. They don’t have to be the the one that just came out yesterday. As they say, those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it. If you can learn something from an older technology it can be just as valuable as the shiny new one. Either way, when you add another tool to your kit you get a new view on each problem you face. This makes it easier to create a sound solution.
The next thing you can learn from working with different products and techniques is how to more efficiently develop solve problems. Many times if you are working with a new language you will find that there are specific design patterns that are used with it in normal use. These can usually be applied with most languages. You just needed to be exposed to them.
The last point is about helping your clients and helping yourself. If you can get in on technologies early you will have advantage over your competition in the market. You will also be able to honestly advise you client on why they should or should not go with a new product. Being able to compare products and their features is always an ability that stake holders appreciate.
You don’t need to learn every detail of a product. Learn enough to function and get an idea of how to use the technology. Keep eating those technology Wheaties and you will be ready to go the distance in any project.