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3 Reasons You Need To Know Something About Every Technology

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?

  1. New ways to solve problems
  2. Accelerate development
  3. 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.

posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 8:49 PM Print
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# re: 3 Reasons You Need To Know Something About Every Technology
Andrew Johns
6/21/2012 7:28 AM
I think I read something similar in the book, "97 Things Every Programmer Should Know."

The unfortunate thing is that in a normal day job being given the time to try out new things is unlikely due to client deadlines, and not all developers (I guess only the ones who really care about their craft) are bothered to actually try out new things at home.
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# re: 3 Reasons You Need To Know Something About Every Technology
Tim
6/21/2012 8:58 AM
Andrew,

Thanks for the comment. No one said anything about consultant being given time. While I am fortunate that my current employer has a program where you earn time to do research, that is not the norm. Even in consulting you still spend a good amount of personal time learning new things. Of course in my line of work it is in your best interest. You do what you can and learn the rest as you go.

Tim

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Tim Murphy

Tim is a Solutions Architect for PSC Group, LLC. He has been an IT consultant since 1999 specializing in Microsoft technologies. Along with running the Chicago Information Technology Architects Group and speaking on Microsoft and architecture topics he was also contributing author on "The Definitive Guide to the Microsoft Enterprise Library".



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