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by Steve Todd | March 05, 2010


One key strategy for job-seeking in the high-tech industry is to obtain professional certification. Short of obtaining a two- or four-year degree in information technology, certification can be one of the more valuable additions to your resume.

What many people don’t know is that certification can increase the odds of on-the-job employee innovation. Why? Because certification exposes graduates to one of the more critical aspects of innovation: adjacency. Before diving into the nuts and bolts of adjacency, let’s discuss the certification process.

A good certification course should not only educate your mind but it should also give you hands-on experience. The courses should provide learning opportunities that are internet-based and lab-based. Certification programs should provide different levels of training, such as Associate, Specialist, or Expert. The end result should translate into a marketable set of knowledge and experiences that prove that you can walk the high-tech walk.

Perhaps the most tangible benefit of certification is your participation and collaboration with other graduates of a certification program. For example, I encourage you to peruse the LinkedIn community of EMC Proven Professionals. This group of over 2,000 people (and growing) has a common knowledge base which enables in-depth discussions of high-tech issues.

These discussions can be the foundation for innovation.

Innovation by adjacency occurs when one expert collaborates with another to solve high-tech problems. Each expert has spent time developing dominant knowledge in their sphere of expertise. When they become certified they are exposed to new technologies and methods that were previously unknown to them. In their quest to learn more about these technologies they reach out to others in their field and cross-pollenization occurs.

Consider the problem of a customer worried about information security. The customer speaks with an EMC certified professional who is an expert in a data routing technology known as PowerPath. This professional knows all of the different ways to route data to a storage device. During certification he or she became exposed to a technology known as RSA encryption. Encryption in this case is called an “adjacent” technology sphere.

By reaching out to an encryption expert, the PowerPath expert would be able to collaborate and combine technologies to form a solution to the customer problem. Several years ago this type of collaboration resulted in a product announcement. PowerPath Encryption with RSA is a direct result of collaboration between experts.

When two spheres of adjacency solve a customer problem, the end result is often termed “Venn Diagram Innovation” (depicted below).

 Venn Diagram Innovation

Pursue certification. Become involved with a community of certified professionals, such as the EMC Proven Professional Community.

Certification can do more than just allow you to acquire a job; it can lay the foundation for innovation as well.

Twitter: @SteveTodd
EMC Intrapreneur


Filed Under: Technology

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