Laurie, how did you get involved with the industry, tell me your background…. Did you always want to work in ICT?
When I finished school, I didn’t have a plan or goal. Nothing new there. I had a bit of a desire to work in electronics and after finishing school. After about a year, I was offered a radio technician apprenticeship with Queensland Rail. In hindsight, that was a very lucky break. It set up my career and who I now am. After working in radio communications for about six years, and witnessing the birth of the consumer Internet. The world changed. I didn’t know it at the time, but experienced quite a few industry disruptions since then. Being on the wrong side of those disruptions, I learnt that it is crucial to understand technology, where it is going, and predict and determine its impact.
Tell me about the most challenging project that you have been involved with during past year.
The most challenging project has been starting up a new ICT/Telecommunications section at WGE. It a great experience and certainly a lot harder and challenging than I expected.
What are you doing to stay current with the latest technology?
This is a great question. I do three things; BICSI, manufacturer network and YouTube. I aim to catch-up with some monthly to have a solid chat about technology, solutions and trends. I also try to spend 30 minutes a day on Youtube watching presentations on technology and solutions. And then I still don’t think that I am keeping up.
Do you see PoE as the big disrupter in this industry?
No. The telecommunications industry has been using communications cabling to line power devices has been used since 1877. I see PoE as just the latest iteration of this practice. The billions of IoT devices will need both (low) power and (low data rate) communications. The ways that this will be achieved will be a renaissance of 30 years techniques and practices. PoE will form a minor part of this IoT data/power equation.
I do hold significant reservations with the application of 100W PoE used to power several devices in a residential setting. Our Customer cable installation maturity (as a market) and the DIY attitude is a concern. Like the home installation program nine years ago, I do expect a loss of property and life to occur before change is made.
Where do you see the industry in the next 10 years?
The industry in 2027 will be somewhat unrecognisable.
I expected that 75% of design work will be automated and/or undertaken by an AI and the largest Customer cabling sector will be residential; single-family detached home, duplexes, triplexes and townhouses. The volume of work required to be completed ~10 million residences in approximately 10 years will force the industry to create and innovate solutions to meet this challenge.
What would be your dream project to work on?
I have two dream projects. One would be to design and deliver the OCS for the Melbourne Metro (tunnel) project. The other project would be to design and deliver the first cognitive building in either Melbourne and/or Sydney.
Why Melbourne Metro – because it will a transformative project in Melbourne that will be around for 100 years or more.
Why a cognitive building – Infuse intelligence into the physical world; an engineer’s dream. I would like to design and deliver a building that takes both building (and personal) data to provide insights using cognitive computing. Then using these comprehensive insights and then optimise facilities management capabilities to better manage buildings. How cool would it be to transform business and enhance the building experience for everyone using the facility.
What advice would you give to a student wanting to pursue a career in the ICT industry?
The issue isn’t finding the course or degree, it’s the mindset to standout. There are seven points I would like to make, whether your studying a degree or doing an apprenticeship. These are:
1. Learn how to program.
2. Gain practical experience by learning to install equipment and cabling.
3. Learn to listen and understand. This is the greatest mistake that I see – the folly of the young.
4. Always work to your maximum capability and keep challenging yourself outside your comfort zone when the opportunity arise.
5. Enthusiasm and smile. We all have those days when things can always go better. It doesn’t help you solve the issues and problems by dragging yourself and anyone around you down into a negative place.
6. Don’t stop learning.
7. Be curious!
In a few sentences, tell me how would you improve the industry?
With the exponential increase of ICT and telecommunications, leading to an exponential increase in Customer Cabling, this directly becoming business and life critical to every person. Based on the level of improvement and maturity of the Customer Cabling design and installation over the last 30 years. I am dishearten to say that it would be co-regulation and enforcement.
I believe that this will be the outcome of another lessons learnt like Australia experienced during the home insulation program.
How long have you been involved with BICSI for, and why?
I have been actively involved with BICSI for approximately seven-eight years. It was the single and leading source of information, education and knowledge around ICT communication cabling design and installation. What I further learn that it provide me access to the professional community that was un-parallel – the community that writes the international and national Standards and regulations.
Would you say BICSI is relevant?
Yes and no. BICSI is the worldwide association for communication cabling design and installation professionals. BICSI’s focus is to provide leading information, education and knowledge in the information and communications technology (ICT) community. The struggle is for BICSI to quickly adapt and keep relevant during the Decade of Disruption.