In the simplest terms, information and communications technology (ICT) is the equipment and infrastructure that enables access to information through telecommunications. According to IGI Global, a leading international publisher of pioneering research from world-renowned institutions, “[…the] ICT sector refers to equipment and services related to broadcasting, computing and telecommunications, all of which capture and display information electronically” (in UN Social Economic Council’s Report of the International Telecommunication Union on information and communication technologies statistics, 2004).
If you consider the day-to-day activities of today’s consumers and businesses, you can begin to grasp the immense growth that has happened in the industry in even just the past 10 years. From business communications and online shopping to social media and streaming on an array of devices, the applications of such technology seems endless. In fact, in addition to the most modern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, ICT even includes more antiquated technologies such as broadcast radio and television, landline telephones.1
The impact of ICT on the world has been so widespread and profound, it is credited for initiating what’s now called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution,” according to TechTarget.com.1 ICT has enabled businesses to open without a physical location, broader access to news and information like never before, and the ability to communicate more easily and quickly across great distances. According to R&D Magazine, funding for ICT primarily came from the military some 40 years ago, but today, military funding accounts for just one-quarter of the total, while nearly 70% is generated from industrial sources.2
Aside from the business and educational opportunities that have risen from the widespread reliance of ICT on both individuals and businesses, it has also spawned a great risk. “Massive infrastructure and personal and corporate reliance on ICT systems also makes them vulnerable to geophysical, terrorist, and accidental threats, driving significant industrial and military R&D efforts to protect these systems.”2
A Healthy Outlook
The growing use of such systems and the need to protect those systems have combined to create a critical need for expertise and skill in this area.
International Data Corporation (IDC) projects, “While traditional ICT spending is forecasted to broadly track GDP growth over the next decade, the overall industry will be catapulted back to a growth of more than 2x GDP as new technologies begin to account for a larger share of the market. The emergence of IoT is already contributing to overall market growth, and within 5-10 years new technologies such as robotics and AR/VR will also expand to represent a significant and growing share of total ICT spending.”4
Many point to the new “digital divide” as a serious consequence created by the rapid growth of ICT, creating an even greater opportunity gap between those who have access and those who don’t.1 However, it is projected that areas of developing infrastructure will rapidly catch up due to the increasingly competitive market due to a rapid return on investment.4
R&D Magazine’s 2018 Global R&D Funding Forecast projects the significant impact of ICT will continue into the near future. “ICT, in fact, has become a global driving force. With its artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous systems, robotics and virtual environment systems, ICT looks to change the overall technological environment within 10 to 15 years.”5 Driven by consumer demand and major investment dollars (the top five ICT R&D companies invested more than $82 billion in 20185), innovation will continue at break-neck speed and impact society.
Industry Growth Means Employment Growth
A forecast for major spending on development and implementation translates to a growing need for professionals skilled in ICT. “The U.S. Department of Labor (USDL) projected growth rates for employment in the ICT sector trends favorably for the ten-year forecast period […] The projected average annual growth rate, relative to the base year, is positive (approximately 2%) across all the major job categories.”6
Specifically, between 2015 and 2020, Statista projected processing power and Big Data to contribute to increased employment in ICT by 5%, and mobile internet and cloud technology, 4.78%.7 But applications for these talents extend far beyond traditional tech. According to the article “Understanding the Links Between ICT Skills Training and Employability” in a 2012 issue of Information Technologies & International Development, “ICT skills are not only required for jobs in the information technology (IT) sector. The demand for them cuts across sectors and job types. ICT skills are increasingly important in sectors such as agriculture, construction, education, and service industries.”8
The need for knowledge and experience in the ICT field are expected to find usefulness across industries, securing the employability and value of professionals in this area for years to come. As federal and commercial spending in technologies continues to trend upward, businesses will find it absolutely necessary to ensure staff exists to support the increasing demands of these technologies that help maintain their competitiveness.
What This Means to HNM
HNM currently staff in a few key areas of ICT, including positions that design, program, implement, and manage distributed antenna systems (DAS), high-frequency local area wireless technology (Wi-Fi), smart grids, and fiber optics.
Because these technologies have implications for all areas of a business from operations to the customer experience, the need for expert, effective, and reliable expertise is critical to all organizations. Staffing highly skilled, high-impact positions is no small task, and knowing how to find the right set of skills and the right culture fit is a serious challenge with serious consequences.
Wi-Fi, DAS: By nature, Wi-Fi and DAS impact many people at once, in an effort to enhance their experience at a large event, venue, institution, business, airport, etc. Intended to meet the growing need for high-speed connectivity despite heavy usage and physical barriers, which degrade wireless service, malfunctioning or interrupted Wi-Fi and DAS has serious consequences. Consumers (or customers) today have a low tolerance for disruptions to their connectivity, so it is critical to daily business to have staff on-hand or available at short notice who understand and expertly manage these systems, such as field engineers and field technicians.
Smart Grid: Wide implementation of a computerized utility ground may initially sound like automation that would eliminate jobs, but such technology means an increased need for maintenance of the systems, knowledgeable and skilled troubleshooting, design and implementation expertise, and other specialized skills. As homes and businesses are built with an increasing focus and requirement for energy efficiency, the need for these skills is sure to grow in scale.
Fiber/OSP: From outside plant (OSP) cabling to supporting infrastructure from the central office to the subscriber’s location, fiber optics technology creates a need for a variety of employment opportunities. The continued expansion of fiber availability requires cabling design, planning and project management, and installation, among others. According to Digital Journal, “Use of non-aerial OSP fiber ducts reached an estimated $996.5 million in 2017.”9 This value is expected to increase to $1.47 billion by 2027.9
Why a Staffing Solution?
Effective recruitment in these key areas of ICT requires highly skilled knowledge and experience in implementation and long-term maintenance, which fast-growing companies do not have the luxury to wait for. HNM Systems is a trusted partner in these industries with valuable experience with some of the largest technology innovators across industries.