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Are you getting IT trends updates…served on a platter?

The first half hour of every quarterly web meeting the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) hosts with its national Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) delivers a discussion of IT trends.   This is a great way for BILT members to share with the participating educators an insider’s look at how the IT industry is evolving and where things might be headed in the next 18-24 months.  Understandably, this is one of the more popular and unpredictable features of the quarterly BILT meetings.  One meeting might cover Artificial Intelligence (AI), another meeting might debate cybersecurity.  Many of the goals in the National CTC’s renewal grant – including its focus on supporting emerging technologies like cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and software-defined networking – first started as discussion topics during the “trends” portion of these quarterly meetings.

At the most recent quarterly BILT meeting, the trends discussion focused almost exclusively on what BILT chair Matt Glover dubbed “the rise of the API economy.”  APIs are application programming interfaces, or codes that allow two software technologies to communicate with each other and share common data.  Think of APIs as a bridge between two different technologies.  MuleSoft offers a fun animated short film that compares an API to the waiter that delivers your order to the kitchen and then brings the food back to you.

APIs are impacting multiple industries and changing the workforce.  “Master bridge builder” companies that only create APIs to mesh with other technologies are becoming hugely successful.  Further, many of those API creators are developing automation bots to handle repetitive, manual labor tasks, thereby eliminating traditional entry-level jobs.  In fact, Matt admitted that he requires his IT team members to strive to automate their current job via scripting and APIs so they’ll have time to tackle other new tasks.  In other words, the concept of just being a “network engineer” is dying.  Technicians need to know more than just one thing and students need to learn skills beyond the traditional IT foundation courses.  Jobs that involve plugging cables and stacking servers are dwindling.  Programmable software controlling IT infrastructure is becoming the norm.  To thrive, IT technicians will need to embrace scripting.

Overall, the BILT believes that soon schools will need to teach students how to create bots and work within in a mesh IT API architecture.  To that end, the National CTC will soon be convening a special “Tiger Team” focus group of BILT members to look more closely at what specific job skills might be needed in the scripting/API space.  The wheels of academia can turn slowly, especially when it comes to teaching new topics or developing new curriculum.  For that reason, the BILT’s forward-thinking approach to IT trends is essential in helping schools get a head start on evolving workforce needs.  Your business council hopefully is doing the same for your program.

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