I have been a firm believer that you should do one thing very good and do it better than anyone else. Doing this makes you valuable and your talents and resources are needed by many people. The biggest problem is what to focus on? This is the key question that makes or breaks a career. I have talked with many corporate executives and managers and they all agree that their success is part hard work, part picking the right technology, and part getting lucky by being in the right place at the right time.
This leads me to ask what is the right thing? Is it becoming a database expert? There are some new technologies inside the database and I was an operating system expert while at Sun. The database operation and management isn't vastly different that an operating system. Unfortunately, there are way too many corners of the database to pick it up quickly. There are people in the office that have been doing this for 10+ years thus know significantly more than me.
I could become an expert in one of the corner cases. For example, I could be an expert in high availability, management, and disaster recovery since I have done this for other places that I have worked. This is a very interesting topic but no one typically wants to spend a significant amount of time focused on these areas because it takes a CXO title to make the policy decisions but a DBA credential to strategize the plan. Very few companies typically have joint efforts with the CXO and the DBA because they speak such different languages.
I could become an expert in application servers and SOA. This seems to be a hot topic for most customers. Given my Java background and experience with Tomcat this could be an easy road. Unfortunately, this does not generate much revenue since few companies develop their own software and those that do have very small groups that focus on this area.
I could focus on becomeing a .NET integration expert. Unfortunately, I don't think that I could do this because everything in my past screams that I should run into the night. Yes, Microsoft is an important platform. Yes, Vista will generate a substantial amount of interest. Yes, I am a UNIX bigot. No, I don't think that I can keep my sanity and tell people that using .NET is the right thing. I would just want to make fun of them and openly mock them to their face. I realize that this is a personal weakness so I should avoid the topic at all cost.
I could focus on business intelligence and the BPEL process. This is something that I have some knowledge at but little experience. It is also something that everyone wants to know about but hasn't invested much time in making work. This in combination with Analytics could be something that has made some sales reps successful in accounts that haven't purchased much in the past few months.
I could hope that my writing abilities will make me rich and famous. Hey, I could make some money writing this blog. I could have millions of people following what I write and get thousands of comments every day into my inbox. I could also wake up from my sugar high from one too many slices of pie and face reality.
If you had a crystal ball, what would you say is the next hot technology? If you were given all the training resources and time to learn a topic what would it be? I guess I better take the rest of the holidays to contemplate my belly button and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Ah, too many choices and too little time. Unfortunately, I want to learn it all.