A broadening horizon for the ICT industry

Aug. 6, 2021

Recently I had the pleasure of being a guest on Chuck Bowser’s Let’s Talk Cabling podcast. If you haven’t checked out his podcast and website, please do. The site is an example of what our industry needs more of—sharing of information from an industry veteran who has made it a mission to educate and encourage the modern ICT workforce.

That concept is one of the topics Chuck and I discussed. How can we as an industry recruit, guide, and help a new generation of skilled workers? Many acknowledge the challenge, and we all can do some part to meet that challenge. Kudos to Chuck Bowser for being part of the solution.

Another topic that came up in our conversation is where the industry as a whole is headed. What might industry professionals expect over the next few years? I believe that if our industry collectively wants to see its future, the place it needs to look is: around. Look around.

It used to be that we saw our future by looking up. Moore’s Law was the law. The annual doubling of chip capacity meant a perpetual need for higher speed and higher bandwidth, keeping ICT professionals busy year in and year out. But today, I say rather than looking up a la Moore’s Law, look around. Wherever you are, look around you at all the systems in a building, on a campus, in a metropolitan area. We live in a data-driven world, where devices of all types have the capability to collect information about their own use and status. Transmitting that information requires connectivity, and that connectivity requires the skills and experience you offer.

For professionals who specify, design, install, or manage physical-layer infrastructure systems within communications networks, the breadth of opportunities available to you is widening. Many of you already are working on enterprise audio-visual (AV) systems and have been for years. Lighting and lighting controls are other building systems gaining increasing attention as the soon-to-be, if not current, domain of those responsible for organization’s information technology systems. Elsewhere in this issue we report on the recent introduction of flowmeters that are enabled with Power over Ethernet. Industrial plants everywhere rely on flowmeters as a fundamental tool in their operations. Equipping these devices with PoE could be an early indication that Ethernet will be part of the fabric of these facilities not too far in the future.

When Moore’s Law was the essential driving force of our industry, the cliché “what goes up must come down” was cause for trepidation. Those who have made it through the industry’s bust periods likely will say that trepidation was justified, and the cliché has some truth to it. I’d prefer to trade in that cliché for another one: What goes around, comes around. With that in mind, I’ll ask you to look around and see where your next opportunity may lie.

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