Are you getting IT trends updates from your business council?

The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) recently hosted a quarterly web meeting for its national Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT).  As always, the first portion of the meeting gave BILT members a chance to discuss at length some of the IT trends they’re seeing in the workplace.  This allows participating educators attending the meeting an insider’s look at how IT is evolving.  If the meetings with your business groups aren’t setting aside time for your experts to share their perspectives on where the IT landscape is going, you should consider making that change.

Here are a few highlights from the trends discussion:

* The explosion of 5G.  While cell towers can handle hundreds of smartphones today, the high bandwidth of 5G – and the many devices that will soon be connected into it – will require a much larger distribution network.  In addition to the towers, 5G nodes will need to be installed in places like streetlight poles or fire hydrants.  And because 5G doesn’t penetrate walls and windows well, nodes will also need to go into buildings.  These nodes will handle some of the traffic work so it’s not all going through the cell towers.  All of this new 5G infrastructure will need skilled technicians to install it and manage it.  This likely means that networking graduates will go out into the field, not just to pull fiber and cable but also to configure and connect the nodes into the network.  The 5G market may also lead to new protocols and new hardware that students will need to know.  This massive transition to 5G will be happening in the next 3-5 years. Here’s a recent Fortune article explaining how 5G will change how we live.

* Moving to the cloud.  While many large companies may have already transitioned to the cloud, small and mid-sized companies are still making the move.  Companies may think it’s a simple process and find obvious appeal in the flexibility and scalability cloud computing offers, but organizational culture must change.  Customers often attempt to recreate their on-premise data center in the cloud, but in some cases that’s a needlessly costly and inefficient approach.  This is why companies need IT technicians that can help with the cloud architecture to help design and implement the best solution for a company’s unique situation.  Many foresee that most companies will employ a hybrid cloud model (half in the cloud, half on-prem) for the next 12 years or so.  An interesting aside to this conversation came from one BILT member who reported on some of his clients who are now trying to migrate from the cloud back to an on-premise environment to take advantage of hardware that is now faster and smaller, which isn’t always easy.  If a company moves to the cloud and ties to an Azure or AWS stack and they start designing around that, it can be very costly to then migrate back.  Those vendors design sticky services that are intended to make you stay with them.  The point is that sometimes it might make more sense to stay on-premise.

* The ongoing development of autonomous vehicles.  Whether on the ground or in the sky (AAV is the newest acronym you need to know – autonomous aerial vehicles), wireless networking will be a key component to the adoption of autonomous vehicles.  China’s EHang has already contracted with cities to deliver AAVs and Uber right here in Frisco, Texas (National CTC’s hometown) announced the construction of a building terminal for flying vehicles.

* Continued concerns about cybersecurity.   The BILT members made a handful of separate comments related to making sure curriculum keeps students focused on security management best practices.  Remember that in most cases, the first person in the company to deal with security threats is the IT technician.

  1. Hackers will continue to target “internet of things” devices and sensors because their poor security makes them vulnerable to intrusion.
  2. Keeping systems segregated during the testing phase is essential. Better to run tests on a new system in a safe, isolated environment than to tie it into the actual network and run the risk of unintended vulnerabilities.
  3. Between 70%-80% of security problems are at the access point; that is, intrusions come from the user, whether it’s poor password management or an unsecure log-in location.
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