Jeffry Handal, an IEEE volunteer, credits his knowledge of standards with helping him land his job at Cisco Systems Inc. During the technical screening part of the application process, he was able to refer to standards when answering multiple technical questions, which helped him stand out from other job applicants.
Many of the technologies, devices, and products you work with as a technology professional, from Wi-Fi to messaging apps, function based on IEEE Standards. What’s more, because standards provide expert-led recommendations and guidance on the use of existing and emerging technologies, organizations that follow these standards can reduce their development time and costs, effectively communicate with other technologies, and build trust with customers in their products and services.
Across the technology industry, professionals see firsthand how understanding specific standards can help their careers, whether it’s landing their first job out of college or helping them move up the career ladder. In a workplace where standards are fundamental to a business’s success, understanding technical standards will help these workers grow their skill set and bring their employer some of today’s most up-to-date technical knowledge. Professionals who take the next step and become involved in collaborating and creating standards realize even more benefits as standards help them advance their career.
1. Gain Competitive Advantage
With remote working opening up to applicants across the country and the world, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive. As IEEE Standards are integral to many professional exams and certifications, such as CompTIA, companies know that applicants who demonstrate knowledge of standards typically need less training time. Additionally, self-study and training on standards show initiative and passion for the field. Organizations that are active in standards are more competitive in their sector, and their employees’ knowledge of specific standards helps improve their market position over other organizations.
For example, according to McKinsey & Company, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by seven years, which means many organizations are now focusing on their efforts to become totally digital-first so as not to get left behind by competitors. Organizations need employees who understand digital transformation and have the skills needed to power the transformation. By understanding evolving and new standards such as IEEE P2023™ Standard for Digital Transformation Architecture and Framework, tech professionals can demonstrate a knowledge of the underlying framework for digital transformation development and applications as well as potential challenges and how to address them. Employers will know these applicants can bring an essential perspective and knowledge to their team from day one.
2. Stay Updated on Industry Trends
It’s often a catch-22 to learn about new technologies before they become mainstream in the marketplace. Technical pioneers who have advanced insights into industry trends and emerging technologies can therefore bring tremendous value to both the employer and industry. One way to keep a finger on the pulse of industry trends is to participate in a standards development working group. Members of working groups volunteer along with other professionals and experts to discuss marketing needs that call for standardization, share their expertise, and then write the actual standards. They can then use their specialized knowledge and insights gained throughout the process to help their organizations better align their products and services with industry opportunities and market-relevant standards.
For example, driven by increasing demand for personalized medicine and healthcare, some IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) working groups are exploring the use of quantum computing, which is in the early stages of being adopted in the industry. Healthcare researchers are evaluating how providers can use a patient’s individual genetic profile to determine the best treatment for a specific disease, such as cancer. Because quantum computing can process the enormous amounts of data involved in both the patient’s profile and those of other patients, researchers can gain insights that were previously not possible with computational computing. Professionals in these working groups are gaining a specialized perspective from working with global experts and will be able to help their healthcare organizations leverage quantum computing technology in an efficient and responsible way.
3. Become More Innovative
Standardization creates a foundational framework that enables businesses to design specific and innovative solutions. It provides a set of parameters to work within so businesses can focus their energies on creating tailored and impactful solutions. For example, since its birth in 1999, the IEEE 802.11™ standard has evolved into an all-encompassing standards family that enables robust, reliable, and affordable wireless connectivity. New products and devices that incorporate these standards have since emerged and become ubiquitous, sparking a revolution in wireless technology.
For tech professionals, understanding the foundational framework of standards can help bridge the gap between their technical knowledge and creating innovative, market-relevant products to better serve their customers. Furthermore, by participating in standards development, they can get access to helpful resources and join other innovators from the industry to shape, influence, and capitalize on the future of technology.
4. Network and Grow Your Career
Creating standards is a collaborative effort that involves working with technologists from different organizations, industries, and technical areas. By meeting and working closely with this diverse community, tech professionals can gain important connections that can help them build new skills and professional expertise. Additionally, by participating in standards development, they will gain a better understanding of industry, markets, and technology.
“I first started out working in areas of design automation for chips, and we had to use standards in order to model them,” says Karen Bartleson, past president of IEEE and IEEE SA. “By learning how they work, participating on the working groups, and then overseeing some of the governance of standards at IEEE, I worked my way up, not only through my company but also through IEEE to finally become the president of the whole IEEE. So clearly, standards help me in my career.”
5. Develop a Global Business Sense
In today’s global marketplace, products and services are often used by consumers from different regions, countries, and cultures. Small but important variances within different market segments can have a significant effect on product design, usability, and perception.
Standards are global in nature — they are created to support global commerce and reduce barriers in international trade by setting universal recommendations and guidelines that bridge the gaps across regions. Therefore, the development of standards is often led by experts and stakeholders from around the world who represent their local market needs, technology trends, and cultural backgrounds.
By understanding and adopting the standards in their fields, professionals can prove their business credibility and reliability to international customers. In addition, participants in standards development can readily apply these global perspectives to product designs and business strategies to better meet the varied needs of customers, helping their organizations stay ahead of the competition in the global market.
Make Your Mark at IEEE
“Get involved with standards,” says Handal. “It’s not going to be easy, but it will be rewarding for your career and for those around you.”
Learning about standards and becoming involved in standards development often becomes a career-long journey. At IEEE SA, we bring together industry leaders and experts across the globe to create standards that drive technological innovations and benefit our daily lives. Whether you are an entry-level professional or a senior executive, you are welcome to learn more about the standards that are relevant to your field or passion and make your mark by raising the world’s standards.