The Next 10 Years

Just what does the ol' crystal ball say about the next decade?

The MCP program officially turns 10 this year. In our special coverage of the anniversary Managing Editor Kristen McCarthy reports on some of the folks who were there in the beginning; James Carrion gives his 10-year take in the online column, “Drill Down”; and Em C. Pea recalls her start as a certified superstar.

Because everybody else is looking back, I’m going to look forward—and tell you what I think the certification program will be like in another decade. If I’m wrong, the next round’s on me.

First, I expect that “Trustworthy Computing” will transform into trustworthy testing. You’ll be able to tackle that next exam from the computer of your choice. It’ll have to involve some way of locking out all other computing activities during the testing, but the VUEs and Prometrics of the world will figure that one out.

Expect more simulations—including holographic-like images on a separate monitor to exhibit the network you’re supposed to design or troubleshoot; if the network boots up properly and securely, you pass. If you’re a developer, you’ll have to glue components together on the spot; if the service runs, you pass.

Next, Microsoft will come up with team tests—akin to relay races. Why should certifications be focused on the individual? Why not let an alliance of people test as a group to show it knows how to work together on projects? This would be a boon for Microsoft partners that want to show their companies can take on all aspects of a complex project.

Microsoft will also finally figure out how to add an experience component to its credentials as part of a master program. You’ll need to provide references or prove you’ve managed a team or put in so many years on the job. And it’ll cost you big bucks to get this extra part to your title, because it’ll be so labor-intensive for Microsoft.

As an aspect of its IT Academy, the company will eventually offer a robust apprenticeship program. You won’t get paid much for the first year or two (and that’s why organizations will buy into the concept—to save money), but that’s not the point. The point is to gain experience on the job.

Companies hiring MCPs will be able to tap a Web service offered by Microsoft to filter out all those applicants who don’t really possess the credentials they claim. The system will sift through the electronic resumes received by the hiring firm, compare scanned MCP ID numbers to the master MCP database, and report back on those candidates who should legitimately be considered.

E-training will go beyond the ubiquitous chats and threaded discussions and let you see the instructor and ask questions through real-time video. You won’t have to travel to get to the classroom, but you’ll still be able to tap the class’ equipment from your desktop.

What am I leaving out? And will we all still be around when I need to buy that next round? Tell me at [email protected].

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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