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Professionalism may be considered as behaving in an appropriate manner and adhering to accepted principles and practices. It is not only vital in the field of Information Technology but it is also very important in other fields. Some of the key aspects of IT Professionalism are competence in IT, knowledge, various skills such as soft skills, ethical behaviour and certification. Professionalism and ethics must be taught and practised at the secondary level of schooling. Professionalism is required not only in the field of Information Technology but also in other fields in order to bring about reputation, ethical behaviour and add value to any organization.
This paper discusses about IT Professionalism and Ethics and how professionalism is applicable in IT industry. With the help of class discussions, case study and literature review, ethics and professionalism in IT and other fields are discussed. In this paper, an effort has been made to answer some of the questions below:
- Why IT professionalism is needed and why is it important?
- What is ethics?
- Why Ethics is needed?
- Role of ethics in Information Technology
IT professionals should not only have good technical knowledge and experience but also have right attitude with good soft skills such as communication, interpersonal, analytical, statistical, managerial, leadership skills etc.
Nowadays, businesses require professionalism in order to provide best quality service to the customers and to satisfy their requirements. Professionalism also provides a platform for ethical trade. It greatly increases profits, productivity and high market value in an organization. It greatly benefits the individuals who follow it and impacts society in a positive manner.
Let us look at some of the qualities which describe a professional (ACM, 2000)
Trustworthiness: Professional trusts himself in whatever he does and trusts other people.
Honesty: Professional is honest when working and follows right code of conduct.
Punctuality: It is one of the most important aspects of professionalism.
Responsibility: Professional is responsible towards his work and handles work effectively.
Leadership: Professional has good leadership skills and is a good team player.
Confidentiality: Maintains confidentiality of information in an organization.
Competency: Professional is technically competent in his field.
What is Ethics?
Ethics may be considered as regulations which differentiate between right and wrong. It also aims to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
Why Ethics is needed?
Ethics helps people to respect and value themselves as well as others. It is based on core values such as Trust, simplicity, integrity, excellence, success and reputation. Ethics in an organization helps in retaining the talent and minimizes attrition rate of jobs. It aims to improve profits and increases productivity among the employees in an organization.
Why IT professionalism is needed and why is it important?
In order to enhance the growth and add value to an organization.
It helps to provide better services to clients
It increases trust with employers and employees within an organization
Create company’s own brand value
IT professionalism forms the pillar for company’s own vision and mission
It improves customer satisfaction
“They should be aware of the various types of educational programs, different job titles and functions, and some aspects of the employment supply and demand. They should be aware of the need for each computing worker to have professional responsibility for their work, and an awareness of the importance of appropriate ethical behaviour in the group. They must also have an awareness of the impact of information technology on society as a whole and on individuals, and be prepared to handle a variety of issues arising in the workplace.” (Little, J. C. and Granger, M. J., 1999)
Role of Ethics and Professionalism in Information Technology
IT has modernized the living standards of mankind. In IT, professionalism plays a major role in bringing the changes to an organization and to the humanity. Technology can be used as a benefit or for destruction. Ethics play a major role in determining the right use of technology. There is a very fine line between professional and non-professional. IT professional must have proper code of conduct, right attitude and good moral values and should not misuse the technology.
Nowadays, due to the rapid advancement in technology there has been a widespread misuse of technology. With the rise of Internet there has been unethical and unprofessional behaviour which have led to severe problems such as computer viruses, Spamming and hacking.
In IT education, ethics should be taught and allowed to be practiced in all schools and institutions. Students must be made aware of the consequences which result due to unethical behaviour. It is in the early stage that these values should be inculcated within them which will lead a long way later in life. There has been an increase in cyber crimes due to the misuse of Internet. Many a time, students are unaware of ethics and professional behaviour. Professionalism must be strictly followed in schools and institutions and should be practised at an earlier stage. In universities, plagiarism is unethical. Copying others ideas and work, without proper acknowledgement to the original author it is unfair and severe action is observed and implemented.
Case Study and personal experience
Personally, it has been a wonderful learning experience studying the importance and role of ethics and professionalism in IT. As goes the famous quote, “Character, not circumstances, makes the man.” (Booker T. Washington), professionalism and ethics helps in making use of science and technology for noble purposes.
In our case study (Digital Artefact on IT Professionalism by Trailblazers, 2010), we discussed about non-professional behaviour and some of the reasons causing it. Non-professional behaviour mainly results due to lack of ethics and lack of soft skills.
Let us look at some of the differences between professional and non-professional
Has self respect and treats others with respect
Has honesty and performs his/her duties
Responsible and dedicated towards work
Skilled, knowledgeable and experience
Team player and has good management skills
Right attitude and sound character
Does not respect others
Lacks honesty and does not perform his duties
Not responsible or dedicated
Lack of knowledge, skills and experience
Not a team player and lacks management skills
Not a good communicator
Does not have right attitude, bad character
“The difference between a professional person and a technician is that a technician knows everything about his job except its ultimate purpose and his place in the scheme of things” (Livingston, 2010)
An example of unethical behaviour in an organization
If an employee in an organization fails to follow the right code of conduct and does not follow ethics, he/she will be penalized. An individual will not be successful in his field if he does not have moral values.
An example of how atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima was completely unethical. People were not educated about the danger and the extent of damage that would be caused by atomic bombs. Had they been imparted proper knowledge and safety measures during the war, many peoples’ lives would have been saved (Matloff, 1966).
How IT professionalism is applicable to me?
IT professionalism helps me to advance in the IT industry and my aspiration is to become network support engineer. In order to be a professional in the networking field, developing a career development plan is useful. As change is rapid in IT industry, I need to constantly update my skills and knowledge to be proficient and successful. Certifications play a major role in the IT industry (Steven Philip, 2010) and by proper planning and management of daily activities, I will be able to obtain higher certifications and get hands-on-experience in networking field.
Network professionals provide and enforce security of confidential information over the Internet. They must adhere to ethics when performing their duties and also provide suitable advice to fellow employees or clients. (NPA, 2007)
Some of the important guidelines and practices for network professionals
Technical expertise and knowledge
Confidentiality to be maintained within an organization and with clients
Following proper ethical codes
Adherence to principles and practices
In the present world the role of an IT professional is vital. IT professionalism is not just about acquiring skills, knowledge, experience and certifications but also giving equal importance to core moral values, principles and ethical behaviour (Jide, 2010). This will have a huge impact on one’s personal life brings about positive changes in an organization and benefits the society. A true professional is a combination of excellent knowledge and skills with fine character and virtues. Government and organisation must promote IT professionalism and penalize the employees or workers who do not follow it. Professionalism and ethics is clearly defined in other professions such as doctors, advocates, engineers etc. IT professionalism is more concerned with technical skills, knowledge, expertise and certifications and no clear guidelines on ethical behaviour are defined. Professionalism is best learnt when one practices than by merely studying it.
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