ICT Professionalism: Progress and Future

Stephen Ibaraki, Founder and Chair, IFIP IP3 Global Industry Council

Gotlieb and Borodin raised the question of Professionalism in computing, as it would develop over time. It is rapidly developing now.

ICT Specialist demand will drop by 60% in the next 3 years. By 2014, 60% of IT Roles will be business facing; over 50% will have business and non-IT Experience.

By 2016, 80% of leading-edge firms will be developing those with multiple skills/with a focus on Professionalism and Business. Business Analysts are already in high demand. There are 35M computing workers growing 30% yearly for the next five years. There is an added 50% in IT that are not even accounted for.


The first major national survey of IT professionals on industry certification finds that 78% are in favor of a complete package or framework for industry certification which includes recognition of vendor certifications, and that combines business and technical competencies where work experience is valued.

In terms of career development, this graphic illustrates what is in demand and my views on what this means:


Career Growth in the future is about having what I call BAIT attributes:

  • Business skills and core industry knowledge where the IT worker is employed;
  • A service oriented Attitude which is a focus on the client and user experience;
  • Deep Interpersonal skills tied in with project management, client relationship management, and communication capabilities;
  • All of this rounded out by Technical skills/competencies with a focus on “professionalism” and current E-Skills.

Demonstrated Progress in Professionalism

The question can be asked: What progress has been made since the publication of Kelly Gotlieb and Allan Borodin’s seminal book, Social Issues in Computing?

The answer is that progress has been profound, far reaching and international.

IFIP, the International Federation for Information Processing was founded under the auspices of the United Nations Educational Scientific Organization in 1960, and now has over 40 country member bodies and affiliates representing over 90 countries. IFIP is a consultative body for IT for the United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization, Sector Member for the International Telecommunication Union, and Scientific Associate Member of the International Council for Science or ICSU.

In 2007, the IFIP General Assembly voted and overwhelming approved their commitment and support for Professionalism and formed the International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3) Board, the international accreditation body for ICT Professionalism and for standards in ICT E-Skills. IFIP IP3 in turn is aligned with the Seoul Accord, the international body for accreditation alignment and standards in post-secondary computing education programs.

CIPS is the official Canadian representative to IFIP and has supported ICT professionalism with professional certifications since 1989. CIPS is also a founding member of IFIP, IP3, FEAPO, ICCP, ICTC, GITCA and the Seoul Accord. All of these bodies support ICT professionalism. In 2012, CIPS Chair Brenda Byers did a national Webcast on Professionalism which received a spotlight from the media and pickup by Ron Richard.

It should be noted that Kelly Gotlieb is the co-founder of CIPS and was at the founding of IFIP. Kelly was also an early pioneer with the ACM and co-author of the first ICT study on ICT-enabled economic development for the United Nations. In 2011, there was a special celebration for Kelly at the University of Toronto, highlighting his significant contributions to professionalism, education, research, government policy and much more.

In 2012, international Professionalism support was in strong evidence for the first time. For example, at the 2012 IFIP World Computer Congress in Amsterdam, an entire stream was dedicated to Professionalism and E-Skills. At the ISACA World Congress in San Francisco, over 80% of their membership is professionally certified. ISACA, with over 100,000 members is the world’s largest and premier association in security, governance and auditing well known for COBIT 5. At the ITU World Summit for the Information Society in Geneva, there was a strong call for action to support professionalism. The Astana World Economic Forum/Connect 2012 (AEF) generated interest in professionalism. AEF recommendations feed into the G8, G20, WTO, World Bank, and OECD.

Security and Cybersecurity continue to top technology needs. In fact, in the US, it is government mandated into curriculum and professional certifications.

In a 2012 interview, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General of the ITU provided support for ICT Professionalism. “First, professional best practice is to be encouraged in every industry…In addition, we have our own Ethics office which promulgates its guidelines on professional ethics through regular in-house workshops as well as serving as a focal point for individual staff wishing to consult on issues of professional ethics.”  The ITU is the specialized United Nations Agency governing, regulating and setting global standards in ICT with 193 countries and 700 global corporations/organizations as members.

An update on EU Professionalism which also applies to the North American context was reported by CEPIS Honorary Secretary Declan Brady to the IFIP General Assembly (GA) in September 2012. Declan reported that a comprehensive study into Professional e-Competence in Europe has been undertaken. The study was a ground-breaking research project involving 2000 professionals across 28 European countries. The aims of the project were:

  • To provide a picture of the competences of ICT practitioners in Europe today;
  • To promote and raise awareness of the European e-Competence Framework by using it as the basis for analysis, demonstrating its practical application;
  • To work towards developing a pan-European vision of professionalism.

In addition, the project sought to:

  • Promote IT Professionalism in Europe and assist in developing a pan-European vision of professionalism;
  • Provide an individual profile report to each participant showing gap analysis against e-CF competences;
  • Provide a country report that enables each county to be benchmarked against the European results;
  • provide a pan-European report.

The survey was conduct via on-line tools, using information taken from the e-CF. The research undertaken by CEPIS produced National Reports for 10 countries and a Pan-European Report. These research outputs demonstrate the utility of the e-CF as a practical competence framework as stated in the feedback received from the respondents.

Some highlights of some of the more interesting items from the report follow:

  • Only 21% of professionals had the e-competences to match their declared profile. In other words, 79% may not have the breadth of e-competences needed for their roles;
  • IT Manager was the most declared job profile, however only 8% of these match the e-competences needed for the role;
  • IT professionals across Europe show a low level of competence in some of the five e-CF e-competence areas, especially in ‘Enable’;

The final report produced the following recommendations:

  • The young talent that Europe needs is lacking. Therefore, promoting the IT profession among young people is essential;
  • Continuous Professional Development (CPD) needs to play a greater role and should be targeted to existing and anticipated e-competence gaps;
  • Career paths with defined training and education requirements are needed;
  • All countries urgently need to address the gender imbalance;
  • The e-CF should be applied as a pan-European reference tool to categorise competences and identify competence gaps. It has become clear that the e-CF is a practical reference tool and it should be further disseminated across Europe.

This project has been enormously well received by both the European Commission, and by all the member societies participating. CEPIS is now looking at how to take this further forward, and create an indispensable resource for all stakeholders interested in the shape of professional e-competences across Europe. The full European and national reports can be found at http://cepis.org/professionalecompetence.

The second initiative, a European funded study into “A European Framework for ICT Professionalism” was heading into its final phase at last IFIP GA (General Assembly) in Prague. This project, conducted in partnership with the Innovation Value Institute (www.ivi.ie), has now published its final report to considerable acclaim in the European Commission. This project has re-positioned the European Commission’s thinking on IT Professionalism in relation to its strategy on addressing the future of the IT Industry in Europe.

Some findings from this project include:

  • Little awareness of ICT Competence frameworks and low adoption rates;
  • E-Competence frameworks are unbalanced and often neglect non-technical skills;
  • Two leading benefits identified from ICT Competency frameworks: Process consistency and Workforce capability planning;

The final report and other details about this important research project can be found at http://www.cepis.org/index.jsp?p=827&n=940#CEPISIVI.

A further initiative, based on recommended next steps from the European Framework for ICT Professionalism report, has been to create a repository of Codes of Conduct, Practice and Ethics, as part of the CEPIS Professionalism Taskforce’s work in looking at the importance of ethics in ICT Professionalism. This repository can be found at: http://cepis.org/index.jsp?p=940&n=2849.

Licensing (registration and regulation), though controversial, has also made progress. Software Engineering licensing has focused on areas involving the protection of public health, safety and welfare. Initiatives appear in Alberta, BC, Ontario, Quebec, Texas, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, etc., and internationally (Australia, UK, New Zealand, and others). In the US, the Principles and Practices (PE) exam has been launched in 2013.  To be licensed requires graduation from an engineering accredited program, passing a fundamentals of engineering exam, four or more years of professional practice, and passing the PE exam. Malaysia is undertaking a more extensive ICT-wide program with support from international communities such as IFIP and the Seoul Accord.

The Prime Minister of Canada has acknowledged that CIPS’ work in certification, accreditation and professional development have made positive and lasting contributions to Canada’s economic growth and competitiveness.

In 2011, IFIP hosted the first World CIO Forum (WCF) with involvement of over 800 senior executives from industry, government and academia. In their WCF “Joint Declaration” they stated, “We strive to support [the] IT Industry and professionalism of IT career.” “We will ensure the highest standards in our work, and with both quality and ethics, and will act diligently and professionally, and with integrity in discharge of our duties for the best interest of our respective organizations and society.”

Tadao Saito, CTO of Toyota, a global fortune 8 company with over $220B USD in revenues, stated “[IFIP] IP3 [International Professional Practice Partnership] is the start of this kind of important global activity.” This is a key acknowledgement of the importance of ethics and IT professionalism which lays the foundation for IT as a recognized profession.

There is also support for Professionalism from  the Global Industry Council consisting of prominent leaders from business, industry, governments, academia, international bodies representing over 15 Trillion USD in market capitalization and GDP. The “Global Industry Council Directors are specially nominated and invited to serve within the UN-rooted body as internationally recognized luminary executives, thought leaders and visionaries and for their strong history of providing substantive contributions to global business, industry, society, education, and governments. The IP3-GIC is a first of its kind focusing on Computing as a Profession, which will further align computing with organizational strategy and business agility driving innovation, entrepreneurship, business growth, regional GDP growth, high yield investment opportunities, and regional economic development. Global GDP is over 70 Trillion USD and the global program for computing as spearheaded by IP3 and IP3-GIC will be a catalyst for a more than a 20% increase in global GDP in the next 10 years to over 85 Trillion USD.”

In a meeting I had with senior Canadian government officials in 2006, they commented about 3rd party support for Professionalism outside of established professional bodies such as the IEEE-CS, BCS, ACS, and CIPS. In 2013, a good example of this support would be GITCA (Global IT Community Association). GITCA is the world’s largest federation of over 1200 professional groups and associations representing over 6 million executives, IT professionals, and students. GITCA supports IFIP IP3 professional certification and professionalism. They believe that IFIP IP3’s accreditation program of ethical conduct, demonstrated professional development and recognized professional certification are the hallmarks for an enabled IT professional and profession.


Kelly Gotlieb and Allan Borodin’s seminal book, Social Issues in Computing, laid the foundation for the continuing evolution of ICT professionalism with the key elements of accredited education, demonstrated professional development, adherence to a published code of ethics, alignment with best practices and an ICT Body of Knowledge (BOK), and recognized credentials though not necessarily licensing. Licensing was deemed too restrictive since there was and is a global shortage in ICT skills.

ICT is integrated into all facets of business, industry, governments, media, society and consumers. This is demonstrated in the latest ICT trends and the business-focus of ICT Skills, all of which demands professionalism.

Since the publication of the book, considerable strides have been made in support of Professionalism with endorsement of the UN-founded IFIP, and many major international organizations. In addition, professional certifications are already mandated in ICT-related domains such as project management, security/cybersecurity, governance/auditing; addressing closing the Skill gap and demands for STEM education and innovation. There is also a tie-in to increasing economic health and growing GDP.

Beyond the publication of the book, Kelly Gotlieb continues to be a driving force for positive change in the world enabled by ICT and professionalism cemented on his pioneering role with IFIP, CIPS, United Nations, ACM, government policy, academic contributions and societal impact.

Kelly and Allan foresaw many major issues in computing and many of these issues will no doubt continue to be priorities at the 100th anniversary of the book’s publication, clearly establishing its value in history.

Stephen Ibaraki is the founding chairman of the United-Nations-founded IFIP-IP3 Global Industry Council, as well as iGEN Knowledge Solutions, Global Board GITCA, and first board chairman, The Vine Group. He serves as vice-Chair of  the World CIO Forum, founding board director FEAPO, and is a past president of the Canadian Information Processing Society(CIPS), which elected him a Founding Fellow in 2005.  Ibaraki is chair of the ACM Practitioners Board Professionalism and Certification  and Professional Development Committees, and is the recipient of many ICT awards,  including a IT Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award, an Advanced Technology Lifetime Achievement Award,  Professionalism Career Achievement Awards, an IT Hero Award, the Gary Hadford Award, and others.  Ibaraki has been the recipient of a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award each year since 2006. Ibaraki serves as an advisor on ICT matters for a variety of global organizations, companies, and governments.