Diagram decorative image

“BICSI-ing” the Future of Information and Communications Technology


The value of virtual conferences, such as the recently held ICT Direct Winter 2023 online event sponsored by BICSI, is the sheer volume of sessions available with a click of the mouse. Attending this event gave me the opportunity to explore several learning tracks at my own pace, allowing a way for me to meet my certification requirements while balancing my current workload.

Attending virtually was, however, not without its sacrifices. I missed being able to personally interact with other ICT professionals from around the world, renewing old relationships and developing new ones. And there is still no substitute for the ability to leisurely walk the exhibit hall to check out product offerings and discuss new technologies and solutions for problems. Direct in-person interaction with a product specialist is still the best way to explore advancements in technology.

But I digress…

As I alluded to before, this year’s virtual conference was packed with educational tracks including audio/visual, data centers, intelligent buildings/smart cities/internet of things, wireless and distributed antenna systems, and more. While it was fun to be able to explore a number of these offerings, I found one to be particularly engaging: ICT Professional Development.

While the exact definition of information and communications technology (ICT) is debatable, its importance to all facets of business and society is undisputed. ICT is sometimes used interchangeably with IT (information technology); however, ICT is generally used to represent a broader, more comprehensive list of all components related to computer and digital technologies than IT. Some definitions go wider still to include antiquated technologies such as landline telephones, radio broadcasts, and television transmissions, though I tend to focus on the digital sphere. While there is no single, universally accepted definition for ICT, I think it is safe to categorize the term to mean all devices, networking components, systems, and applications that work together to allow us to interact in the digital world.

For such a wide range of potential career paths available to ICT professionals, I am shocked by the industry’s recent difficulties enticing and educating the next generation of tech leaders to pursue ICT consulting as a career. A session led by Trevor Kleinert called “Educating the Current & Future Generations in the ICT Industry” particularly resonated with me. Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:

  1. Identify individuals/groups with a passion for technology. Be assured that they do exist, and it is incumbent upon us, as today’s leaders, to identify the next group of future leaders. One trait to look for, and one I have identified in my peers, is a person motivated with a commitment and drive to succeed. Our industry requires forward-looking, critical thinkers with the capacity to easily understand and pivot between concepts, solutions, disciplines, and programs.
  2. Invest in these individuals with time and knowledge. We must support and nurture them to build their confidence and improve their skill sets. Mentoring is a must. The benefits of mentoring will allow the candidate to receive expert advice, build confidence over time, and learn at their own pace with less pressure. Ideally, a mentor has similar interests to the pupil, works in the same industry, and is relatable. When the right connection is made, both subjects benefit and form a professional bond for years to follow improving the chances for long-term career success. This pairing of a mentor and mentee should start with an opportunity for each to familiarize themselves with the other to include introductions, lessons learned, as well as a frank discussion about the mentee’s long term and short-term goals. The mentor should include an overview of both time and cost investments the candidate can expect. If future certification is being considered, such as the BICSI RCDD program, the two should outline a path forward including certification required qualifications, anticipated costs, and anticipated time commitments.
  3. Do not fear becoming a steppingstone in a career. Far too many companies within our industry, and others, have shown a reluctance to invest in their employees. To this Kleinert posed two questions: “What if we invest in our employees and they leave?” and “What if we don’t invest in them?” The latter is clearly worse.

As the skills needed to manage technology and telecommunications converge, the number of potential career paths continues to expand. Areas of popular ICT specialties include:

  • Data governance
  • Network engineering
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Information security
  • Storage administration
  • Cloud service integration
  • Big data analytics and business intelligence
  • IT project management
  • And many, many more…

Today’s successful ICT job candidates do not necessarily need an advanced degree. Professional certifications in a number of career tracts are enough to satisfy employment requirements.

I am also concerned about the diminishing number of mentors. The current talent pool of ICT instructors continues to decline. However, BICSI still manages to offer a wide variety of ICT courses taught but our industry’s most competent and experienced leaders. We must maintain a support structure to serve ICT candidates. This support should come from many sources including professionals, colleagues, individuals as well as friends and family.

Finally, our industry must be cognitive of the cost of achieving goals and objectives financially and personally. There must be economic incentives coupled with a healthy work/life balance to support this next generation of ICT professionals.

In conclusion, I believe it is incumbent upon us to ensure the future of the ICT industry by finding, encouraging, supporting, and training our future replacements. Without our individual dedication to this cause, we are putting the future of ICT best practices at risk.

Don Hennessy freely shares knowledge gained through his years of experience managing numerous high- and low-voltage electrical work and construction projects as part of fulfilling ESD’s mission to improve society through the built environment.

Contact us to learn more about how ESD can help solve your technology and other built environment challenges.


Related News

Interested in learning more? Check out these related news items.

Doyle Article Explores Meeting Room Technology for a Hybrid Workforce

The evolution of the modern office needs to accommodate team members meeting in person and online. ESD now Stantec Senior Audio Visual Consultant John Doyle offers an overview of the best technology to consider. (Learn more about the meeting room technology.)

Aligning Technology with Tenant Needs

New technologies are transforming the traditional workspace allowing building owners, operators, and developers to attract and retain tenants in a competitive market. (Learn more about the smart building technology.)

Fahim on Verdict of Real Estate vs. Tech Spending

Two of the largest expenses for law firms are real estate and technology. ESD, now Stantec Practice Leader for Technology Mo Fahim says higher-end spaces may have an advantage because they support new technologies better. (Read Mo’s interview at Law.com.)