Catchy title, eh? :)
Salaries are one side of a trade. A salary is presented to you on a semi-regular basis from a business venture or organization. Most of us consider salary when choosing with which business venture or organization we should spend our time and effort - because time and effort are what we bring to the table.
The other side of the trade is what you bring to the organization. What do you do with your time and effort that helps the company achieve its goals and objectives? The key concept here is business value. (Apologies... the image of the banner from the movie Office Space proclaiming "Is this good for the company?" keeps popping into my head...)
The balance between these two forces of business physics - business value and your time and effort - determines your salary. (Perhaps that's naive. It's more accurate to say your understanding of these forces of business physics determines your salary. Increasing your understanding is the purpose of this post.)
Although you may learn nifty things at work and enjoy learning, businesses are not training centers. If you want to learn new, cool, and exciting things, there are places for that sort of thing - they're called "schools." If it's recognition you seek, try writing a book or speaking at seminars - or even starting your own website.
This may come as a shock, but businesses exist for the sole Gordon-Gecko-esque, Ebeneezer-Scrooge-ish purpose of making money. Work is a place to get things done - to accomplish things that bring business value - which in turn increase and/or sustain the amount of money flowing into the business. "Is there business value in learning and recognition?" Absolutely! Businesses wouldn't waste resources on these activities without a return on the investment.
"So, Andy, I'm confused... are you saying businesses should or should not engage in training and recognition?" I'm not talking about whether business should or should not do anything. Rather, I am attempting to explain some harsh realities regarding life in the business jungle. The brutal fact is: Businesses engage in these types of (expenses) activities as a means to an end - and that end is not solely to make you feel better about yourself. The reality of the goal is something closer to: "If you feel better about yourself and your job, you are more likely to produce more business value with your time and effort." It's not as much about the what as it is the why.
The software Business should be considered as it is addressed here - software with a lower-case "s;" Business with a capital "B." It is a Business first. Please keep that in mind.
The software Business has matured to adolescence at best. This presents a set of issues unique - but surprisingly predictable - to adolescent industries. Other industries have matured in the past. They offer models of the phases (into which I will not delve here) through which all industries grow. The current, adolescent state of the software industry is somewhat analagous to the American West - just about the time some semblance of law and order arrived on the scene - or the early years following the industrial revolution. My mother (who raised four "rambunctious" sons to adulthood - no small feat for any woman) would describe it as "scrappy."
"So, Andy, how do I double my salary?" you ask? "Quadruple your value - and split the difference."
"Lovely advice. How does one accomplish this?"
"I'm glad you asked."
You can be a good DBA. You can be a good coder. You can be nice. You can be fun. You can practice good hygiene (I hope you do, in fact!). You can get to work early and stay late. All well and good - but what have you done for the business lately?
We, as technology professionals, get paid to think. So how do we think better? One method is more familiar to technology professionals than others (but there are many ways to "think better" <-- loaded term, by the way...): Think about scale.
Enterprise technologists deal with scale daily. It's something we're uniquely qualified to comprehend. We usually learn about it as we watch the best laid plans of mice and men go awry right before our deploying or disaster-recovering eyes.
Does "scale" scale? Why, yes it does. It scales right out of our little (lower-case "s" software) world and into the (capital "B") Business world rather nicely. In fact, some business theory relies heavily on concepts of scale in organizations. At the very least, we should be among the first to identify a scaling business issue.
"Specifics, Andy - give me specifics!"
How do you know your enterprise application has reached the limit? What are the symptoms of it maximizing its potential? hitting the wall? dashing itself to pieces against the rocky coast of your competition? For one, the "old way" - the way that has worked so well for so long - stops working. Processes bog, traffic slows, complaints mount, crises loom. Have you ever seen this in software? Have you never seen this in Business?
Your response requires strategy. Business Strategy For Geeks is a topic for another post. But simply recognizing - and effectively communicating - issues of scale will add to your business value. And it's really as simple as applying skills you already possess in a different field.
There is opportunity for you to improve your business value to your current orgainzation. As such, there is also opportunity to increase your current salary. It is a trade, after all.