The value of good education during tough economic times

As companies look at the events of the past 3 weeks on Wall Street and in Washington, they have to be reasonably concerned about the future, but more importantly about how to ride out the current economic challenges. Innovation and a strong vision are the key factors to survival in these tough times. South West Airline is a company that has over the past few years done better that most of its competitors in customer satisfaction and growth mainly due to a culture of innovation and good foresight.
 
It got me thinking about how most companies, in touch economic times, cut back on probably the most vital need in IT - and that is quality training / education. I say that this is vital because technology changes rapidly, both software and hardware and more and more organizations rely on IT to provide them the competitive business edge, one that is even more critical in tough economic times. Good training is one where you learn the skills far beyond the basics. You learn not just the different ways to implement a technology, but you learn the best way to implement it. You are able to draw from the experiences of people who have spent years finding the best way to implement a technology and also learnt of ways not to do it. The risk of not learning these best practices and techniques is that developers often learn by trial and error over long periods of time. This impacts IT productivity and can also often lead to solutions that fail to meet business needs. To give an example, SQL Server Integration Services is a relatively new technology that has been widely adopted by a large number of organizations. Most organizations that have implemented it have used it in the most basic form. This means that there is no good framework that has been implemented to centrally manage and monitor these packages and the underlying configurations. As a result, when something fails, it often takes up a good percent of someone's time to troubleshoot and manage. A good framework can mitigate that. Unfortunately, a good ETL framework is something that takes significant amount of experience and knowledge to design and implement correctly. Wouldn't it be great if you could go to a session where you learnt about how to implement that framework? Done right, you would end up freeing up support resources and simplify development of packages - all leading to lower IT cost. Also, equally important in this era of compliance, companies cannot afford to have lax processes and security that can compromise their systems and data. For consulting organizations, the upside to a well educated team that can understand and implement best practices is that it leads to better customer satisfaction and a competitive edge with new customers.
 
This is where a conference like the upcoming PASS Summit can play a vital role in providing that competitive edge. This is a once a year opportunity to learn from over 100 expert speakers who have an average of 8 - 10 years of experience in SQL Server product. The price you pay for this education is very small when compared to the price of hiring and managing additional resources to build and support IT. The other advantage of the PASS summit is the networking. Begin able to network with peers in the industry means that you have someone to reach out to outside your organization to ask questions rather than spending countless hours trying to figure out the answer. At PASS, you also have the opportunity to discuss specific problems with top industry experts and get solutions. I am sure that a number of you have had to call into your premier support to identify and fix some problems. At PASS, the same team (CSS Team) will be onsite not only teaching how to troubleshoot, but will also for the first time, host a CSS First Aid area where you can bring in your specific problems and get them solved at no extra cost!
 
When you consider the cost of the summit, the travel and expenses and the lost opportunity costs, I truly believe that it would pale in comparison to the value and the longer-term savings that your organization would derive from the summit. Also, the learning and education does not stop when the convention center lights turn off. Most of the regular conference sessions are recorded and made available to attendees - that's access to over 150 hours of deep technical training. So, attendees can revisit sessions they attended, or look at the sessions that they could not attend. Don't miss the opportunity to participate in this unique conference and gain a competitive edge.