Many of us in the IT industry are happy to see the end of 2002, a year when the technology economy just couldn't seem to pick itself up off the floor. Fortunately, early signs indicate that 2003 will bring improvements. Of course, the vast array of variables--including the lingering threat of terrorism and the developing situations in Iraq and North Korea--complicate any effort to make economic predictions about the coming year, even for economists. However, I'm certain we'll see significant progress on the employment and economic side of the equation.

Of course, the big news this year will be the release of the Microsoft .NET technologies and the associated certification tracks. Windows 2000 MCSEs will need to take an upgrade exam or two to stay current. The thousands of remaining Windows NT 4.0 MCSEs will have a much tougher row to hoe when Microsoft releases the new certifications.

This last point will, I believe, rejuvenate the certification industry. When Microsoft changed gears in 2001 and decided to let NT 4.0 certifications remain valid, a side effect was a drastic reduction in the number of technicians who needed to prepare for and take the Win2K certification exams. With the advent of the .NET exams, all of us who took a pass on the new certifications will need to either knuckle down and bring our certifications up-to-date or take the risk that we'll lose them in the near future.

We've seen some good certification resource companies go under during the past year, and several more are holding onto the ropes to try to remain in the game. I think the new certifications will help the certification industry, and I think a strengthening economy will help the companies that are holding back on their IT spending. So make your resolutions and hang on, because I predict this year is going to be an eventful one!