To Lead the Race to 5g, We Must Transform Our Telecom Workforce


Malik Zakaria


August 23, 2018

5G is the Holy Grail of the telecom industry. It will enable the future of technology, providing the foundation not just for faster downloads but for leveraging the entire Internet of Things (IoT), from smart toasters to sensor-enabled manufacturing to self-driving cars. And right now, the driving force is a legion of forward-thinking leaders. These are the executives and managers who are pushing digitization at their organizations in order to remain viable in a competitive, global environment. To support them, to fuel business innovation —and the economy — we need 5G and we need it now!

But we don’t just need 5G. In the global arena, we need to dominate 5G just as American telecom companies have dominated 4G. The stakes are too high to lose our leading edge in this industry. That’s especially true since there’s another entire dimension to this discussion, and that’s power.

As you’ll see below, the evolution of 5G networks is also the evolution of global economic power as well as political influence. So when it comes down to it, our IT workforce will play a pivotal role in the nation’s ability to remain among the world’s top powerhouses. Are we ready?

The Race to Lead the World in 5G: Critical in More Ways Than Most People Know

In an era where technology is inextricably intertwined with economics and national security, it matters greatly just who owns 5G. On a national level, leaders are concerned with mergers, takeovers, and foreign investment, eyeing everything carefully lest U.S.-based companies’ ability to dominate 5G becomes threatened.

In Tech, Innovation Wins the Race

Soon, the need for 5G infrastructure development will be massive. To get rolling with 5G, we’re talking large-scale investment by telecom companies to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. Some of that will go to patent-producing research but eventually, funds will go toward creating the infrastructure that’s necessary to support the new networks.

Money is only part of the equation in winning this global race. Companies will need to foster innovation if they want to help the U.S. maintain a position of strength in the tech world. But no matter who wins the 5G tech race, the IT workforce — the field engineers, for example — must stand ready to take up the baton for the next stage of the relay. That means becoming more agile.

It can also mean going freelance. As most IT professionals are already aware, the use of third-party IT services is on the rise. Individual departments yearn for a more personalized, user-friendly approach to IT and they’re turning to cloud-based services to get it.

SaaS companies often thrive by tapping into a global network of independent workers — many of whom have shifted away from traditional “IT Department” jobs to become part of a growing, agile, remote workforce. This is happening in the telecom sector too, where the need for engineers and others essential to building the 5G infrastructure can expand and contract quickly and dramatically.

Once 5G is enabled, this trend will blossom even further, gaining maximum momentum.

To Prepare for the Era of 5G, the IT Workforce Must Become Agile

To compete with the rest of the world, companies need a malleable IT workforce, one that can quickly scale up or down as needs change. One that can quickly learn new technologies, new processes, and other requirements of a fast-paced, mobile environment.

Everyone is busy adapting, growing, and benefitting from the internet…so should those who enable it. Becoming agile is everyone’s job nowadays, including those in IT — even the field engineers. It’s how innovation takes place and it’s how we’ll eventually become the leaders in the race to implement 5G.

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