India is at the cusp of technological revolution – 5G, IoT, Machine to Machine – all making inroads to the country at the same time. Indian operators who just started offering the 4G services are in a tight spot in coping up with the global technological evolution and at the same time to meet the demand of customers for new and futuristic services. We spoke to Ninad Desai, District Chair of BICSI India, an association that caters to the domestic ICT industry. In an email response, he offers his views on how the new age telecom service providers should approach the coming times and also about his association’s contribution in shaping the industry. Excerpts :
Q. As ICT infrastructure continues to advance, there is a need to evolve to the next-generation networks. How is the Indian ICT environment prepared to handle 5G and IoT?
We need to understand here that what’s happening on the ICT landscape is disruptive. 5G is the foundation for realizing the full potential of IoT. The first-generation mobile network (1G) was all about voice, 2G was about voice and texting, 3G was about voice, texting and data, 4G was everything in 3G but faster and 5G will be even faster, however 5G is much more than just fast downloads, it’s a unique combination of high-speed connectivity, very low latency which would be the root cause of this technology disruption.
The Indian government has plans to roll out 5G by 2020, test-beds are being set up at the Indian Institutes of Technology in Delhi and Chennai, while corporations are accelerating their 5G related works in the country. The speed, reach & quality of 5G services will depend on government and regulators and as much as the quality of ICT cabling and connectivity infrastructure that the service providers would provide, both on inter as well as on the intra connectivity fronts.
Q. The technology has been changing at an unprecedented rate and enterprises continue to aggressively embrace new technologies? How do ICT professionals equip themselves with new skills and knowledge to effectively contribute?
There are clearly many important ways in which education can contribute to knowledge and skills. Given the global, interconnected challenges that ICT professionals would need to face now on an everlasting basis, it is essential for them to prioritize knowledge and skills that are linked to current and future tech livelihoods and that can primarily be achieved through incorporation of quality vocational industry standards and practices based on generic education and training in their professional lifestyles.
The past 20 years of the ICT industry growth has seen an accelerated process of globalization that has impacted India like never. However, not all have benefited equally from this process and this is primarily because they have not being adaptable to the new learnings on an ever-ready basis.
Gone are the days when professionals could consider their education done and over. Instead, one must be willing to learn, accept and add new skills which would make them current and relevant in today’s world.
Q. For professionals to stay significant & essential in the fast-changing ICT world how is BICSI propelling the growth of ICT industry and strengthening the professional community?
BICSI is a global professional association that supports the information and communications technology (ICT) community. BICSI members and credential holders are the individuals that design, install and maintain ICT. BICSI serves more than 23,000 ICT professionals through training, publications, conferences and credentialing programs. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, USA, BICSI membership spans nearly 100 countries.
BICSI India district with its current member strength of over 150-member professionals works to fulfil the aspirations that BICSI visions to deliver to its ICT member community globally to its members in India and its neighbouring countries in the SAARC and the middle east.
BICSI credential programs provide a level of assurance to the industry and to consumers that an individual has knowledge in a designated area of information and communications technology (ICT) design and installation. The professional designations are valued globally and are recognized throughout the ICT industry.
Q. Addressing the existence of skill shortage in the ICT industry, please elaborate on key actions initiated by BICSI?
The proper installation and integration of ICT cabling infrastructure is required more than ever to support 5G and beyond and hence becomes a more daunting task than ever and more so due our work culture of giving adherence to standards and industry best practices a back seat. It is not only the challenge of the complexity of infrastructure but the paucity of quality installers that makes implementation of industry best practices in whatever we do as professionals an even more challenging task. The need therefore is to have quality ICT designers, managers & installers who understand and practice, rather than just keep doing the traditional way that the majority of them have been used to for the past many years.
We at BISCI India are working closely with like-minded professionals, industry associations & volunteers to help build an ecosystem of collaborative learning and skilling. The industry participants are also rising to the occasion by contributing in various ways possible to help bring sanity to the ICT work-space. The ICT Centre of Excellence is a unique hands-on design and installation skilling edu-space, that is already operational in Mumbai and delivers some of the best ICT skilling programs of international repute in areas of Telecommunications & Distribution, Data Centers, Outside Plant & Telecom Project Management, to name a few.
Q. How is BICSI India associated with bodies like TSSC and what are programmes currently offered by the ICT centre of Excellence?
BICSI India is working closely with the Telecom Sector Skills Council in promoting ICT training programmes on Optical fiber that align to the National skills qualification framework (NSQF). We, in fact were instrumental in facilitating one of their leading fiber installation programmes get an industry validation for skill-sets requirements.
BICSI India in association with TSSC is also the industry skills partner to the IndiaSkills programme conducted by the NSDC in the Information Network cabling vertical in providing technical and logistical conduction support as well as preparing candidates for the Worldskills challenge in Russia in 2019.
Q. What are some of the key takeaways for Indian institutions, so that they can focus-on to deliver industry relevant programmes?
The speed of ICT infrastructure with the technological innovation that the industry demands is moving faster than that the Indian institutions are able to adapt. Our conventional education system continues to focus primarily on lectures and exams, leaving students underexposed to the hands-on experience with current challenges and therefore, underprepared to enter today’s workforce. As a result, they are also suffering along with the businesses who are unable to have quality workforce due to unavailability of professionals fit enough to go ready on the workplace. How can we expect students to be effective and successful employees when we’re using outdated models to prepare them?
Boosting the value of today’s higher education system and most importantly, helping prepare students for their professional life after class, means, adopting a more practical and concept applied approach to education. A very integral part to this is building and expanding partnerships between academia and the industry to help create a more valuable education ecosystem that’s interesting as well as educating.
This is what BICSI India working towards, to achieve in close partnership with the industry sector skill councils and the institutions, results of which we are already able to see looking at the interest generated, and professionals certified in their areas of competence in the past year of the efforts put to practice.