Issues pertaining to the professional conduct of IT professionals

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How do various professional IT societies promote the idea of ‘professionalism’ in their members and has this helped companies



This report focuses on issues pertaining to the professional conduct of IT professionals. It focuses in particular on the Code of Conduct of several professional IT societies with reference to the behaviour of their members. The report discusses how these IT societies have attempted to regulate the IT profession so as to safeguard the EMPLOYER from ‘cowboy’ IT professionals.


The IT sector has seen more development and change than any other industry to date. The advances in technology have been tremendous and people have become ever increasingly reliant on more and more technology, be it at work or at home. For example, a survey done in 1996 showed that the affect of IT and IT personnel influence major-large scale business performance more than any thing else.

The pattern of advancement has not followed suit as far as IT professionals are concerned, or so it is argued. It has been suggested that whereas people that work in other technology areas such as scientists or medical professionals are expected to follow a somewhat professional code of conduct, the IT professionals don’t have anything as definitive to follow. Various arguments have been put forward to tackle why this may seem to be the case. The most prominent opinion seems to be that the IT field is simply too broad for its professionals to be stipulated under one charter. On the other hand some take a more optimistic opinion in that the IT field is still in adolescence when compared to other major fields of work, such as the financial sector or manufacturing. In which case perhaps the IT field will gain more credit and respect once it has matured, just like the other sectors have.

Nevertheless, various IT societies such as Association for Computing Machinery (hereafter referred to as ACM), the British Computer Society (hereafter referred to as BCS) and Electrical and Electronics Engineering (hereafter referred to as IEEE) have taken measures to tackle the issues of professionalism in IT.


BCS organisation was established in 1957 to represent the interests of engineers who were primarily working in hardware development. Since than it has developed into a major institution, which represents over 38,000 members working in extremely different professions, be it a fresh IS graduate from university, a Project manager or a UML expert. Over the last 20 years, BCS has gained considerable influence over the government and the academics institutions of UK. This is evidently due to the phenomenal rise of the ‘Information System’ era that has benefited BCS immensely as it saw an increase in memberships, which lead to an increase in BCS’s power of influence. BCS has also gained global respect and is steadily growing outside of the UK as well as outside of Europe.

BCS first made its key impact in the legislative system in 1990 ‘The Computer Misuse Act’ where the act was co sponsored by BCS. Since than, BCS has gained respect across the board as a place of ‘specialised knowledge’. BCS organises numerous events aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge in the IT field, it is one of the key ways that allows BCS to keep up to date with current trends in the IT market. In addition BCS is actively gaining influence on the academic front, it is adamantly increasing links with higher education institutes. This has been praised as a step in the right direction as one of BCS’s overall aims is to gain some uniformity with respects to its member’s education, and that could be achieved if BCS help create similar syllabuses.

In comparison the ACM was established before the BCS. It boasts more than double the membership size of the BCS. It shares more or less the same objectives as BCS, however, it has a much more global membership, which has affected its influence in terms of policy in two ways. Having a global membership has meant that ACM has a great deal of GLOBAL influence, therefore at world summits etc, ACM is a force to be reckoned with, however in terms of national influence in a particular country, ACM has SLIGHTLY lost out as SOME governments don’t care much for an organisation that boasts little representation by way of members in there country.

Nevertheless ACM is very active particularly in USA where it is consistently involved in all sorts of policy matters, regional and national pertaining to IT issues. ACM also actively supports its members if they wish to challenge the legislative system on a particular IS based issue. This is something BCS lacks because, although it vows to support its members, it doesn’t share the enthusiasm that ACM has for a legal debate.

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The IEEE is a more specific society in relation to its members as most if not all of its members have a technical background such as engineering. This organisation has ten times as many members as BCS and about five times as many members as ACM. Its members are spread around 150 countries. IEEE does all that ACM and BCS do such as advising governments on issues relating to IT. IEEE takes an interest in higher education institutes through out the world. It organises about 300 conferences yearly on IT based issues. Interestingly enough, 30% of the literature in ...

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