Evaluating the new professionalism

A professional is somebody who bills you in tenths of an hour. That well might sum up the public’s view of lawyers, high-priced accountants and even, dare I say, elite computer consultants. But we all know that professionalism means a lot more in terms of knowledge, liability issues and ethical standards.

As technology is entrusted with maintaining our bank and brokerage accounts, medical records and even the traffic lights at our intersections, people want to be sure the underlying work is done by qualified and, ultimately, accountable professionals.

This is why over a decade ago I applied for, and still hold, the ISP designation. Legally recognized in most provinces, and called the IPA in Quebec, the designation is a signal that the holder has attained a level of education and experience that merits being called an IT professional. ISP holders will only provide services within their field of expertise. So, while I do get my hands dirty designing computer courses within my own field of expertise, computer security, don’t expect to see me out there teaching courses in Java or Oracle Financials. ISPs know what they don’t know, and in computing that’s often quite a lot.

If we look at other professions, there are some fascinating signs pointing to what the future may hold for us. On Nov. 6, a Web site called www.PeopleQuick.com started accepting r