Finding myself in a dead end as an SIer Dead end of the Systems Integrator
First year graduate student in the Professional Course
Research subject: Aiming to introduce new value-adds to the EA (enterprise architecture) field using service engineering
I was working in IT industry for about 10 years. I was employed by a company that dispatched Systems integrators to other companies. My mission there was to build and maintain their business system as an system infrastructure engineer.
I was quite satisfied with my job, but the job of a systems integrator is to take just a part of a job from the client, so the scope of the job is pre-determined by the client.
A few years after starting and becoming familiar with the workplace, I came to question the situation where I just took orders and did what I was told. I came to feel unsatisfied with just meeting the requirements written in the request. “Just who is it I am working for, and why? I wonder what department this work is going to help at the client’s offices?” Just as I was starting to think this way regularly, something big happened within my company.
Self-analyze to work out the required skills
Because of The collapse of the Lehman Brothers over the period 2008 to 2009, several client companies cut off our contract. Quite honestly, I was shocked, but then I came to realize that the biggest problem was the weak position we were in, to just have our work depend on decisions by the client. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to survive for long in this industry if I stayed just an SIer, so I made a decision to change my career. I was looking at ways I could shape my career around the thoughts I had been having about what work’s purpose was and who are the beneficiaries, then the position of internal SE came in my mind. This position can manage the company’s entire system, and I can define and execute my own tasks. But I had neither the skills nor the experience. After some self-analysis, I determined that the skill I was missing was being able to provide a suitable solution to the customer that met their requirements. I thought that an engineer that could provide technical services wasn’t what a company required. Rather, what they needed was a person with upstream faculties (for example, being able to properly determine the functionalities required by the user department, making judgements about how these could be made into a system, etc.).
Studying the upstream processes I was aiming for
I set my sights on becoming an internal SE, and immediately set about achieving that aim. My first thought was that I needed three skills to reach that goal. The first was problem solving within the company, working out what was possible to improve processes, examining the information system architecture required for this, and then the ability to negotiate with the management of the company. The second was the ability to negotiate with the vendors and SIers required to implement the system. The third was the ability to coordinate who get the job done and how to give the instruction and the whole schedule management. I started the search for a job, but I found that I couldn’t get anything as an internal SE due to the lack of skills and experiences. I decided to go back to school to acquire these lacking skills. The conditions for the school were that I had to be able to learn upstream processes in a practical way and that the school be in Kansai. That is when I came across KIC.
The possibilities I saw when I stepped back from ICT
I heard that associate professor Akio Fujiwara taught special classes on the upstream processes, and made the decision to go to a KIC information session. I had a person-to-person meeting with Professor Fujiwara, and he made me feel that KIC was the place where I could acquire those skills. I actually did look at other post-graduate institutes, but there aren’t many vocational institutes around that take such a practical approach in classes. The close connections with business are also ideal. After deciding to pursue my studies, I decided to work in a service industry with live-in arrangement for two years to save the tuition fee of KIC, because it was difficult for me to do it with system engineer job. I can’t say I wasn’t uncomfortable about leaving behind the fast-moving ICT industry for two years, but as I was looking into the future at the time, I was able to deal with it. Actually, it was during this time away from ICT that I was able to see the ICT as another type of service. For example, when you are fully immersed in the ICT industry, we use jargon without thinking about the customer’s understandings. Whether it is the ICT industry or the service industry, there is no difference in providing a service that can really satisfy the customer.