Cisco recently announced that the Cisco Networking Academy has enrolled its 1 millionth concurrent student for the first time. An example of cloud-based education delivery, the Networking Academy teaches students how to design, build, troubleshoot, and secure computer networks for increased access to career and economic opportunities — in communities all around the world.
The way a nation’s people collectively participate in the Global Networked Economy may seem like a complex topic that’s only relevant to the few academics and industry analysts that study these emerging trends.
However, recent events in Egypt offer insight about the close relationship between the cause and effect of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy decisions, and the likely resulting socioeconomic impact on the whole population.
In my prior dialogue with U.S. economic development practitioners, sometimes they would raise concerns about being unable to quantify the tangible benefits of telecommunications network infrastructure assets. Granted, it can be a challenge.
What a wonderful thing maps are. As a child I would pore over them, sometimes for hours, looking for the silliest names, the most intriguing locations, the most exciting geographies. I was particularly taken by maps of the Canadian Shield, a place so vast and forbidding that even today large swaths of it remain unexplored.
This is the home of the world’s largest remaining arboreal forest — it is huge. I also like the fact that on the maps of northern Canada, even today, roads meander northward from the reasonably populated cities near the US border, and then, inextricably, end. As a kid I longed to go there, to see what lay beyond the end of the road. I still do.
I still take aimless ambles through maps today when I have time. The nature of my work is such that I have had the pleasure of driving to the end of some of those roads, and in some cases, creating roads of my own. I have visited places with exotic names like Timboctou (we call it Timbuktu), Ouagadougou, and Zanzibar. The joy of map-gazing, however, still burns hot for me.
What separates the technology-advanced nations from all others, and how is that supremacy being applied most effectively for social and economic advantage? This is a question that I’ve asked myself repeatedly over the last decade.
Clearly, I’m not alone in my quest for insights that help our understanding of why some nations have excelled at enacting meaningful Information and Communication Technology (ICT) market development.
What I’ve learned to date: the nations that were able to make a quantum leap in progress did so only after they completed a candid assessment of their current status – essentially, a detailed situation analysis that ranked their relative position in the global networked economy.
Ongoing investment in essential telecommunications infrastructure matters to everyone, whether they know it or not. This fundamental assertion will be a reoccurring theme in my commentary. My belief is deep-rooted, and it goes back to the beginning of my work experience. As a young man, my first job in the telecom industry was at The Commercial Cable Company, a subsidiary of ITT Worldcom in London, England.
Back in the 1970s, I had the opportunity to join what was then a leading international record carrier, that was also an early pioneer of unique data services. I was schooled in the application of electronic teleprinters, private line services and store-and-forward message switching systems. I quickly learned about the socioeconomic benefits gained from deploying telecom facilities, while assigned to support the communication needs of numerous private and public institutions.