The IT Professional's Guide to Researching a New Industry Get to know your industry for a happy and successful career pdf pdf

  

The IT Professional's

Guide to Researching

a New Industry

  

Get to know your industry for a happy and successful career

Tom Taulli

The IT Professional's Guide to Researching a New Industry

  Copyright © 2014 Impackt Publishing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews. Every effort has been made in the preparation of this book to ensure the accuracy of the information presented. However, the information contained in this book is sold without warranty, either express or implied. Neither the author nor Impackt Publishing, and its dealers and distributors will be held liable for any damages caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by this book. Impackt Publishing has endeavored to provide trademark information about all of the companies and products mentioned in this book by the appropriate use of capitals. However, Impackt Publishing cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information. First published: March 2014 Production Reference: 1240314 Published by Impackt Publishing Ltd.

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  Credits Author Reviewers Cover Work

  Tom Taulli Claudio Fernandes Melwyn D'sa Paul Nahay, D.M.A.

  

Copy Editors Project Coordinator Commissioning Editors

  Tanvi Bhatt Priyanka Goel Richard Gall Ameesha Green Stephanie Moss

  Production Coordinator Acquisition Editor Proofreaders

  Melwyn D'sa Danielle Rosen Simran Bhogal Paul Hindle About the Author Tom Taulli is the author of numerous books, including All About Short Selling, All

  About Commodities, How to Create the Next Facebook: Seeing Your Startup Through, from Idea to IPO, and High-Profit IPO Strategies: Finding Breakout IPOs for Investors and Traders. He also writes for publications such as Forbes.com and BusinessWeek.com . You

  Taulli.com can reach him at his blog . About the Reviewer

Paul Nahay received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in musical composition from

  Stanford University. He taught on the faculties of Stanford University, the University of Maryland at College Park, University of Maryland University College (as Assistant Professor), the Graduate School of the United States Department of Agriculture, and for UMBC (University of Maryland at Baltimore County) Training Centers, where he taught computer programming languages and related technologies for over a decade. Paul was a freelance corporate trainer and Microsoft Certified Trainer for 15 years, and instructed hundreds of programmers from over two hundred different companies, federal and state government agencies, and military branches. He was a Technical Editor for the John Wiley and Sons/Sybex book Java SE 7 Programming Essentials, by Michael Ernest, published November 2012. He currently designs and teaches programming courses in Java, C#, JavaScript, and Android programming. Paul designed and programmed a number of unique music software systems, including ScoreInput, published by Passport Designs. Paul's current live keyboard performance software, Keyboard Wizard, has enhanced live performances featuring David Benoit, Tony D'Anza, Linda Eder, Michael Feinstein, Brad Garrett, Kathy Lee Gifford, The 5th Dimension's Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., and Ray Romano. It was used on tour with recording artist Melissa Manchester, in the scoring of the USA Network's The Starter Wifeseries, as well as in the Disney/Pixar motion picture The Princess and the Frog, under the baton of Randy Newman. In both 2011 and 2012, it enhanced the Kodak Cinematography Awards Ceremonies, one of the official off-screen Academy Awards events for the Oscar-nominated cinematographers. Information about Keyboard Wizardis at broadway-performance-systems.com. Paul currently works for the U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., as Computer Scientist.

  > Contents

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  Preface >

  While much of the US economy has languished since the financial crisis of 2008, the

Information Technology (IT) community has thrived. This is especially true for those people who have skills in areas such as mobile, the cloud, social networking, robotics

  and 3D printing, all of which are exciting and expanding parts of the IT world. According to research from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the forecasted growth rate in employment from 2010 to 2020 for software developers is 30 percent (the average salary is over 90,000 dollars). Roles such as database administrators, computer systems analysts, and computer research scientists are estimated to see growth rates of over 20 percent.

  IT companies realize that technology is about more than just making core functions more efficient, such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, marketing automation, and human capital management. They understand that there needs to be technology embedded in products as well. Yes, your refrigerator will probably be connected to the Internet one day, if it isn't already. Or consider that your car will have 3G too.

  This is why the famed Internet entrepreneur and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen believes that "software is eating the world". According to him, "More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures." Great, right? Absolutely. But if you want to maximize your career in the IT industry, you need to go beyond just having the right skill set. It is vitally important that you pick the right segment of the market to focus on. Hey, what if you had a job as an IT developer at Borders or Kodak? Well, it may have been an interesting experience, but now you might be without a job and benefits. Instead, what if you had worked at companies such as Under Armour, Starbucks, or LinkedIn? No doubt, you would have experienced the exhilaration of high growth and innovation. Besides, your equity options will have been worth much more. Understanding an industry will help an IT developer with their job. With the rise in cloud computing, companies are effectively offloading processes. This means less demand for employees that handle routine tasks, infrastructure, servers, and hardware. Instead, the focus is on looking for business uses for technologies. So again, an IT developer's understanding of an industry will certainly be a huge help.

  The good news is that there is an enormous amount of information available. Of course, this is one of the many benefits of the Internet. But there's a problem: information overload. You'll quickly realize that you could spend weeks and weeks reading the latest information about an industry. It's overwhelming.

  To be successful, you really need to focus on the important parts. What are the key drivers? What are the challenges? Is the industry growing? What are the danger signs? When you have a good feel for the goals of your research, then things will get much easier, which is the main goal of this book.

  What this book covers

  Chapter 1, Researching an Industry, will give you information on how industries are classified and defined, giving you the first steps in the process of your research. Chapter 2, Questions to Ask About an Industry, will show you how to critically assess different industries and draw out the issues that will be important to you both professionally and personally.

  Chapter 3, Finding the Right Information, gives you guidance on how and where to look for the information you need. Who this book is for If you are an IT Professional and want to find out more about the best industries to work in today, this book will give you the basics on what questions to ask and how to research your job market. As the world of IT becomes an essential part of any business, today an

  IT professional could find themselves working in a range of industries and sectors. The question is—which one makes sense for you?

  Conventions

  In this book, you will find a number of styles of text that distinguish between different kinds of information. Here are some examples of these styles, and an explanation of their meaning. New terms and important words are shown in bold.

  Make a note

Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.

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  1 >

Researching an Industry

  As an IT professional looking to enter a new industry, there is much to think about. Which industries are growing? Which ones are facing headwinds? Which provide the best long-term prospects? Which industry is the best for your skill set? All these questions can seem daunting. But, in this chapter, we'll take a look at some approaches to help make the process smoother and much more effective. The first section will talk about how to define an industry, which might sound simple, but in fact can be very tricky. We'll look at how using an industry code (a number that describes a particular industry) can be a helpful way to make your research much easier. After this, we'll take a look at some of the innovative online and mobile tools that can help you with your efforts (for an IT professional, this should be familiar ground). These will help you to keep track of your links and provide a great way to organize your research, for example, by taking notes or putting together lists of bookmarks.

Defining an industry

  Before doing any research, you need to have a good sense of your target market. This may sound elementary, but it can be tough to do. It is actually quite common for people to focus on the wrong industry segment, which could certainly stunt your career path. If you look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary, you'll see that the definition of "industry" is a bit fuzzy:

  A group of productive organizations that produce or supply goods, services, or sources of income. Not very helpful, huh? So, to help things along, the U.S. Government has done a lot of work to create a standard classification of industries called the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS, pronounced "nakes"), which is used at the core of Federal statistics. This was created to create uniformity in the measurement of economic statistics, making it easier to calculate things such as the growth rates of certain industries. In the messiness of macroeconomics, NAICS make it a little easier to see exactly what is going on. NAICS is the result of extensive study and analysis by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Economic Classification Policy Committee (ECPC), Statistics Canada, and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia. Its origins go back to 1997, but NAICS actually replaced an older system called Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). A NAICS code may sound intimidating, but it is actually a really efficient way to define an industry. It will also be extremely helpful when conducting your research because many databases use NAICS codes. Keep in mind that all of these codes have six digits, which go from general to specific (you can find a comprehensive list of every NAICS code online at http://www.census.

  gov/eos/www/naics/

  ). The first two digits are the broadest industry sectors, which include: Make a note ■ 11: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting ■ 21: Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction ■ 22: Utilities ■ 23: Construction

  ■ 31-33: Manufacturing ■ 42: Wholesale Trade ■ 44-45: Retail Trade ■

  48-49: Transportation and Warehousing ■ 51: Information ■ 52: Finance and Insurance ■ 53: Real Estate and Rental and Leasing ■ 54: Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services ■ 55: Management of Companies and Enterprises ■ 56: Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services

  ■ 61: Educational Services ■ 62: Health Care and Social Assistance ■

  71: Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation ■ 72: Accommodation and Food Services ■ 81: Other Services (except Public Administration) ■

  To give a sense of some of the NAICS codes, here are examples from some well-known companies:

  Make a note Nike: 316211, Rubber and Plastics Footwear Manufacturing Lulu lemon: 448190, Other Clothing Stores Coca-Cola: 312111, Soft Drink Manufacturing

  To look up the NAICS codes (of which there are 1,065, by the way), you will need to use a private data provider. One good resource is

  Manta.com

  . Think of this site as a search engine for information on companies. In fact, the database has over 87 profiles. While some of the information requires a subscription, the free portion still has a large amount of helpful information. Some of the items include: employee count, years in business, list of products and services, similar businesses, and revenues. However, some companies engage in different types of businesses. So, to deal with this, the NAICS code is based on the primary business activity of a company.

  In other words, if you plan to work for a company that has many types of business, you should not look at its designated NAICS code. Instead, you should find the NAICS code for the industry of the division you plan to work for.

  To do this, you can go to http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ and then input several phrases that describe the industry. You'll get a list of suggested NAICS and you can then select the most relevant one.

Helpful Internet tools

  Once you have the right industry target, you will then need to find efficient ways to track your research. The good news is that there are many free services to help you out. Of course, Google offers an extensive set of online features that allow the easy creation of documents. With these, you can copy and paste web links and articles.

  If you use Word, then you can set up a service such as Dropbox. With this, you can sync all your files in the cloud. This means that any changes you make to a document will be instantly updated across your systems, be that a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This is especially useful if you are likely to be doing research on a number of different devices. A more developed research tool is Evernote. It essentially makes it easy to save just about anything, including blog posts and even audio recordings. So, what if you like to use old-fashioned pen and paper to write your notes? Well, you can do this with Evernote

  Livescribe.com

  as well, that is, by using a smart pen, like you can buy from . Your notes will be wirelessly transferred to your Evernote account. This type of device can cost anywhere from 150 to 300 dollars. Then there is OneNote, owned by Microsoft. With it, all of your content is connected to the Office apps. For example, if you insert an Excel spreadsheet in your notes, you will see preview charts and diagrams at the side of the page. OneNote is also optimized for mobile devices. That is, you can easily draw, erase, and edit information by swiping your finger across the screen.

  Keep in mind that there are hundreds of note-taking apps on the market, so it is impossible to review all of them in this eBook. The good news is that top companies such as Microsoft and Google have top-notch offerings that integrate with their other apps. But it is also worth taking a look at apps from smaller companies such as Dropbox or Evernote. In other words, before deciding on a note-taking app, it's a good idea to try a variety of them out.

Summary

  In this chapter, we covered the essential starting points for your research. We learned that all industries have standard codes that can be extremely useful for searching databases. I'm sure you'll agree it is critical that you are researching the right industry! We have also had a look at the rich online and mobile tools available, many of which are free. They will be very useful as you plow through lots of information.

  You are now ready for the next step, that is, to get a sense of the topics you need to focus on. That's what we'll do in the next chapter.

  2 >

Questions to Ask About an Industry

  Even industry leaders such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon's Jeff Bezos realize that they do not have all the answers. That's why they focus on hiring standout people and asking them tough questions. With this process, it is much easier to get the right solutions. No doubt a process of rigorous questioning and assessment is useful for just about any effort or project, including the research of an industry. Yet, there are some pitfalls. With the huge amount of information available, it's common to get stuck in the weeds.

  In this chapter, we'll take a look at the key questions that will help you to get a handle on the main drivers of an industry and provide a solid foundation for your research. What is the growth rate?

  This could be the most important question. When looking at a career in a new industry, you are likely to have more opportunities if there is sustainable long-term growth. A company like this will have more resources to invest in new products or services. There will also be more opportunities for advancement and compensation.

  However, there is no definitive standard of industry growth rates. Instead, you'll generally see the following diverse sources: h Trade Associations: Each industry will have one, and they will have a website that provides lots of helpful information, usually for free. Yahoo has a comprehensive

  http://dir.yahoo.com/business_and_economy/

  list of trade associations here: organizations/trade_associations/ . h Private Data Providers: Their research is often extensive, but the price tag can be high. It is not uncommon for a research report to cost thousands of dollars.

  Thus, for someone who is researching an industry for career purposes, this is really overkill. h U.S. Government: The data is nonbiased and free. Some of the key sources include the Census Bureau ( http://www.census.gov ) and the Bureau of Labor

  http://www.bls.gov Statistics (BLS) ( ).

  Of all these, the BLS has the best information on growth statistics. It publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), which is a treasure trove of information on

  http://www.bls.gov/ooh

  industries and occupations ( ). These profiles include details on things such as working conditions, what workers do in the industry, and qualifications. Of course, there is also important information on the job growth outlook, which covers the years 2010 to 2020. According to the latest report, the top ten categories include (the growth rate is on an annual basis): h Home health care services: 6.1 percent h Individual and family services: 5.5 percent h Management, scientific, and technical consulting services: 4.7 percent h Veneer, plywood, and engineered wood product manufacturing: 3.9 percent h Computer systems design and related services: 3.9 percent h Cement and concrete product manufacturing: 3.2 percent h Outpatient, lab, and other ambulatory care services: 3.2 percent h Offices of health practitioners: 3.1 percent h Software publishers: 3.2 percent h Construction: 3.1 percent

  Keep in mind that this information is on a national basis, that is, for the United States as a whole. However, the economic situation may be different for a particular state. To this end, you can look at the website for a specific state and get data on the growth of its industries.

Is there a major catalyst for the industry?

  OK, this may not be the first question that comes to mind, but it is crucial when evaluating an industry. Growth is often the result of some megatrend. There wouldn't be much demand for mobile developers if the smartphone sector was small and growing slowly, right? In other words, see if there is a huge driving force that should result in long-term growth. You should come across this information as you research an industry, as you should start to see certain themes emerge. Consider that many industries do not have any major catalysts, and this is likely to mean that the growth will be muted. If you take another look at our top-ten list mentioned previously, you will notice that all of them are benefiting from major catalysts. It should be no surprise that three are in the tech industry, which is currently undergoing tremendous change. Four of the categories listed are in the healthcare industry. This makes sense. The "baby boomers" are now entering their retirement years, with 10,000 people reaching age 65 every day. This means they will need more and more healthcare services. Now what about the other categories in the top-ten list? Three are in the construction industry. While this may seem a bit strange, there is a major catalyst here too. In the U.S., the infrastructure of bridges and roads is getting old and needs to be repaired. Because of this, there has been growth in construction services. More importantly, this is a megatrend that could last for several decades, propelling growth in the industry. With such strong growth potential, these industries are also likely to see strong demand for IT professionals. After all, industries like healthcare and even construction rely heavily on technology.

Is there much government support or regulation?

  Some of the biggest industries in the world got their initial support from governments. Examples include aerospace, semiconductors, and even the Internet (which started as a project from the U.S. Department of Defense).

  However, there are risks with this support. This is especially the case when there are large government budget deficits, which result in lots of pressure to cut back on programs, for example, Cleantech industries. Consider that a variety of companies in the sector such as Better Place, Fisker, and Solyndra have gone bankrupt. Without subsidies, they were unable to sell their products at a profit. In other cases, there are industries that are under heavy regulations such as healthcare and banking. This can sometimes stunt growth as it is tough for companies to move quickly.

What is the competition in the industry?

  All industries have competition. Whenever there is an opportunity for profit, entrepreneurs will create new businesses to capitalize on it. However, over time, this could drive down profits and growth. This is especially the case with commodity businesses such as those that produce products that have little differentiation. Examples include: beef, natural gas, gold, grains, oil, and so on. This is why you want to look for an industry that has barriers for entry and is not easy for new entrants to enter the market. For example, in an existing market, companies may benefit from substantial investments, as is the case with railroads. Simply put, it would be too expensive for a new player to enter the market. Other entry barriers include patents and well-known brands.

  Is the industry a fad?

  Fads are a common part of the business world. Out of nowhere, a certain product will bring about a mania, creating lots of millionaires in the process. The problem is that fads disappear, sometimes as quickly as they emerge, which means that the industry could see a huge decline and even bankruptcies. So, if you are looking to work in a red-hot industry, be careful. The trend may only last a few years. You may end up needing to look for another job. There are certain industries that are prone to fads. They include: h Restaurants h Fashion h Consumer technology

  It's not always easy to identify a fad. Keep in mind that back in the 1960s, the fast food industry was considered a fad. Then, companies such as McDonald's proved that quick and easy food on the go could be very big business indeed. However, when it comes to a new industry, especially one that gets lots of buzz, there's always a risk that it really is a fad. You simply need to be aware of the risk and ask yourself how strong and sustainable a particular sector is, and how much you are willing to take that risk.

What is the industry's reputation?

  Every industry has a reputation. It's not easy to define since it includes lots of qualitative factors such as customer service, product innovation, transparency, regulatory compliance, and even corporate citizenship. There is an annual report called the Global Corporate Reputation Index that ranks the main industries. The oil and banking industries are at the bottom of the list, whereas technology is at the top (perhaps the main reason is that the industry launches innovative products that can greatly enhance people's lives).

  Then there are some surprises. For example, the auto industry has an overall strong reputation as there have been strong improvements in reliability and quality. Now, this does not mean you should avoid an industry that has an average reputation. Keep in mind that companies in the oil and gas industries have grown substantially over the years. This trend will probably continue. Rather, reputation is likely to be more of a personal consideration when looking at a career choice. If you are staunchly against animal testing, then you should probably avoid the pharmaceutical industry, regardless of the growth rates and the opportunity for career advancement. It is your career, so you want to be happy in the organization you are working for. Maintaining your personal sense of integrity is a key part of job—and life—satisfaction.

Is the industry threatened by disruptive change?

  In today's world, an industry can quickly come under tremendous pressure from new technologies. Some of these megatrends include social networking, e-commerce, big data, mobile, and cloud computing. Companies such as Borders, Circuit City, Tower Records, and Kodak have crumbled because they were not able to remain innovative. Then take a look at what happened to the newspaper and travel agent industries, which have seen rapid deterioration.

  The fact is that just about all industries will feel pressure from disruptive technologies. This is why when you look at working for a company, it is important to see whether it is focusing on innovation (no doubt, this is really good news for IT professionals). Does it have a digital strategy? Is it using mobile technology? How does the company compare to its competition? If a company is not investing in new technologies and innovations, there's a good chance it will not grow. There's even a chance it will not survive at all. From a personal perspective, being part of an organization that is forward thinking and innovative is certainly more satisfying than being part of an organization that is past its sell-by-date.

Summary

  In this chapter, we took an in-depth look at seven important questions to ask about an industry. True, these are far from being the only questions you should ask. You should feel confident enough to ask the ones that are important to you. However, do not go overboard. It's easy to get too focused on questions that really do not help with your research. Be sure that your research is focused on the questions that are important to you. Once you have the main questions, it's time to answer them. This is what we'll look at in the next chapter.

  3 >

Finding the Right Information

  As an IT professional, you certainly understand that there is no shortage of information about industries. Of course, the real challenge is finding the sources that will help answer your questions so you can make a sound career decision. This is what we'll do in this chapter. To provide some background, we'll first look at how to get a sense of the types of information available and how to evaluate this information. Evaluating information

  In your search for information, you'll come across many types of sources. Here are some of the main ones: h Traditional publications: Magazine circulation may be rapidly deteriorating, but many have successfully transitioned to the Web. All of the industries usually have several publications that cover the news and trends. h Blogs: There are literally millions of these that cover industry topics. Yet many are operated by one person, and the content may be fairly subjective, if not incorrect. h Research reports: These come from companies that focus on certain industries.

  Generally, the reports require payment or sometimes an e-mail registration. h Government sites: As mentioned before, the U.S. and state governments have many useful data sources.

  When going through these sources, it's a good idea to be skeptical and try to focus on those sources that are reliable. There are some other things to consider, such as: h Date: When was the information published? Let's face it, in today's fast-paced world, research can quickly get outdated. So, try to look for research that has been published within the past year or so. This is especially important when you're job-searching in a fast changing economic environment. It is even more important for the IT field, which seems to change on a daily basis! h Sources: While websites such as Wikipedia may have inaccurate information, they can still be useful resources. This is especially the case if the information has links to back up the statements. In fact, it's worth visiting them to get much more information on a topic, particularly early on in your research. In today's world, it is easy for anyone to post information. The result is that there is lots of hype and false information. So, in your research, pay attention to the preceding factors. As the Internet will most likely be your main tool for research, it is critical that you get the right information, especially since it could have a big impact on your career. Of course, the Internet is likely to be your main source of information, maybe even your only source, when conducting your research. However, it is always important to have some healthy skepticism. With the growth in social media and blogs, it is not always easy to get a sense of the accuracy of information. So again, it is a good idea to focus on trusted sources when conducting your research.

  Free data sites

  There are many places where you can find useful information on the Internet, but here are several that should provide a good overview of industry information. All of these will have substantial amounts of information on topics that are focused on IT-related industries, but there are also some, such as the first four sites listed as follows, that focus specifically on IT: h TechTarget.com: This is a publisher of over 100 websites on IT markets such as virtualization, security, storage, app development, management, and so on.

  They all have a tremendous amount of industry information, including white papers, webcasts, and videos (these are from third-party research firms as well as tech companies). h TechRepublic.com: This is similar to TechTarget in that it has a myriad of IT topics.

  However, the website has IT professionals as the authors of the content. As a result, this is a great place to find new contacts and to get answers to questions. h Dice.com: Founded over 21 years ago, this site focuses on job listings for technology and engineering, but also has useful content on trends, advice, and strategies. There are also community groups you can join for many categories such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, Web Development, and Security. h Spiceworks.com: This is a social network for IT professionals with a membership

  Spiceworks.com

  base of over 2.5 million. Like the previous sites, is rich in content, and the company also has a focus on videos. h Vault.com: This site provides free profiles (about a page long) for 100+ industries.

  Topics include the history and development of an industry, what it's like to work in a specific industry, and tips for success. h Yahoo! Finance: For each industry, you will get the latest news and financial information. Perhaps one of the most important parts is the net profit margin, as this will give a strong indication of an industry's capacity for growth. This is the percentage of profit compared to the overall sales. Yahoo! Finance will compute the average for all industries. Thus, when you are looking at a company, compare its net profit margin to the average, which will give you an idea of how well the company is performing against its peers. h About.com: This is a fun site. It has tons of information on many topics and on a range of industries. Its writers come from different backgrounds, and their experience is invaluable if you want to find out what is going on in certain sectors and what it's like to work in them. h IBISWorld.com: This is a highly-regarded database for industries. While it requires a paid subscription, each industry has a free snapshot profile. You'll find useful information such as growth rates, the employee count, the number of businesses, and a list of major trends. No doubt the list could go on and on. As you do your research, you will certainly come upon some other helpful sites. However, for the most part, the websites mentioned here come from trusted sources and have the kinds of information you will need for top-notch techtarget. industry research. Also remember that although IT-specific sites such as

  com techrepublic.com

  and may seem to be the most applicable to you, it is still a good idea to look at more general sites. They will most likely be just as useful as those with an

  IT focus. Many industries regard IT as an important part of their growth and will probably look to hire from the sector.

  Google tools

  Obviously, the first place most people go to research an industry is Google, and you should too. The first page of links should provide you with some good resources to understand your industry. You can also press the "News" tab at the top of the page to get the latest stories.

  There are also some other free tools available which can help you with your research:

  http://www.google.com/think/

  h Think Insights ( ): This has tons of content for 14 broad-based industry categories. It is largely a marketing–and advertising– focused website, but this can be useful as it allows you to see how different industries present themselves and communicate to the outside world. Think Insights also has a visual interface that allows you to easily create graphs that show trends based on regions, countries, or the world. You can easily drill down on each to get more information and research.

  http://www.google.com/trends

  h Google Trends ( ): Put in an industry, product, company, or whatever topic you want, and Google will produce a chart that shows the overall level of interest (this is based on the volume of online searches). There will also be links to other content, such as blogs and videos, as well as related search terms.

  EDGAR Companies need to have a strong grasp of their industry and competitive environment.

  In fact, if a company is publicly traded, it will need to record this information in Electronic Data-gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system (EDGAR), which is available from the

  

www.sec.gov

  ). This is the government agency

Securities and Exchange Commission ( that regulates public companies

  When performing a search, look for the latest 10-K form, which is a company's annual report, and then use the find feature to search for "industry". You should quickly find a good description of the company's industry. Keep in mind that the information is often from third-party research companies, which can be safely considered trustworthy sources. There will also be a write-up on some of the major trends and challenges in the industry. Looking at annual reports can be a quick way to get accurate information, as well as a smart way to get access to data that may require subscribing to a paid service.

Social media

  Social media can be extremely useful when learning about an industry. You can post questions on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook. Hopefully, you'll get some good feedback from your network! However, LinkedIn may be your best social media resource. After all, its main focus is on business professionals. Again, you can post a status update to get information from your network. Each industry is likely to have a number of "groups", which are networks within LinkedIn that share common interests. In an industry-focused group, you should be able to learn some interesting details while also expanding your contacts.

  Keep in mind that LinkedIn has over 8,300 groups for Information Technology. So, you will probably need to narrow your search, for example, by using a category such as "Security" or "Virtualization". When selecting a group, you should also look at the members and see if they are the types of professionals you want to network. Once you join a group, you can sign up for daily or weekly updates. However, to get the most value from a group, it is important to provide useful content in the discussion section. This can be a great way to demonstrate your abilities and build solid contacts. You may also want to look at LinkedIn's "Companies" feature. It provides profiles, which include updates, product information, and any related contacts. You will also find a list of similar companies, which can be helpful to get a sense of the players in the industry. Another social media resource to check out is quora.com . Basically, you post a question and should get a good number of quality answers from a large online community, which includes millions of members. Keep in mind that the founder of the site was a top engineer at Facebook. As a result, many of the users on the site come from the

  IT industry. Of course, you will be able to get responses from people outside of the

  IT industry as well. Just as it's good to keep an open, non-IT mind when searching information from websites and blogs, it can similarly be beneficial to hear from non-tech people on sites such as Quora.

  Summary

  Well, we've reached the end of the book. Now you have the right tools to help make an informed decision about an industry, so you can feel confident and happy about your next career move. So, let's recap some of the most important steps: h Get the NAICs code for an industry. This will help when using industry databases. h Consider using online tools such as Dropbox, Google Apps, or Evernote.

  They will be extremely helpful when tracking and organizing your research. h Ask questions that focus on the key parts of an industry, such as growth, competition, catalysts, reputation, and disruptive changes. If you do not, you will have a tough time getting a sense of what's important. Keep in mind that there is lots of information that you really do not need to know. Remember to always take some time to evaluate any information in terms of whether it comes from a trusted source and is fairly recent. Unfortunately, there is lots of content on the Internet that is simply not right. If you follow it, you could be led in the wrong direction, possibly winding up in an industry whose prospects may not be good, or ending up in an industry that you are not happy in. The good news is that by following the advice in this book, you now have the tools to effectively research an industry, which is no easy task.

  More importantly, all of this information will certainly be helpful in providing you with a great career or business! Whatever stage you are at, whether you are a first jobber or a seasoned IT pro, remember that if you're ever making a change and taking a step into the unknown, this book will be there to help you find your way around, to ask the right questions, and to lead you in the right direction. The only thing left for me to say is… Good luck and happy researching!

  Appendix > Research tools

  h Google Apps: Online word processor and free storage of files h Dropbox.com: A cloud system that syncs files across desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones h Evernote.com: A sophisticated note-taking system that uses image scanning h Quora.com: A community for Q&As

  Industry databases http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/

  h NAICS ( ): The database for NAICS codes

  http://dir.yahoo.com/business_and_

  h Yahoo Directory of Trade Associations (

  economy/organizations/trade_associations/

  ): This can be a great source of industry information

  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ ): A database from

  h Occupational Outlook Handbook ( the Bureau of Labor Statistics that provides in-depth information on industries and occupations h TechTarget.com: Extensive information about IT matters h TechRepublic.com: Another great resource on IT information, with the writers mostly coming from the industry h Manta.com: Profiles on millions of companies h Vault.com: This site provides free profiles (about a page long) for 100+ industries

  http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/ind_index.html

  h Yahoo! Finance ( ): Has financial information for industries h About.com: A site that provides extensive industry information

  http://www.ibisworld.com

  h IBISWorld.com ( ): Provides free snapshot profiles on industries

  http://www.google.com/think/

  h Think Insights ( ): This has a substantial amount of content for 14 broad-based industry categories h Google Trends (

  http://www.google.com/trends/ ): Shows the level of interest

  about industries (based on search queries) h EDGAR—Electronic Data-Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval system (

  http://www.sec.gov

  ): The database for required company filings, such as annual reports

  Glossary

  h Barriers to Entry: These are the factors that set a company apart from the competition, such as a strong brand or technology. h Commodity Industry: An industry where there is little product differentiation.

  This makes it tough for companies to compete and generate large profits. h North American Industry Classification System (NAICS): These 6-digit codes represent certain industries. This is part of the US government's standards when producing economic statistics. h Primary Research: This is when a researcher collects data directly, such as through surveys, interviews, and direct observations. h Secondary Research: This is when a researcher pools available data from primary sources and summarizes it. h Subjective Analysis: This is when an analyst makes judgments about an industry.


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