Will video render your skills useless?

For a generation now, having IT skills was one way for non-tech staff to get a foot in the door of any company that had IT assets with no dedicated staff.

Though video over Ethernet is hardly new, it’s becoming a lot more common, and is raising a host of questions over what effect it will have on the IT job market.

Here at IT World Canada, our Hands On blog is exposing us to a pool of tech-related skills. While some firms have jumped into the pool head first, others are reluctant to get their feet wet.

Whether you see video as an intruder in your network requiring eradication, or another way of communicating with customers, partners and the general public, it’s going to be mixed in with voice and data. And the skills required to deal with this go beyond installing cables, switches, monitors and cameras.

Take video conferencing for example. More than 10 years ago, you could arrange a video conference over Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) lines for job interviews and other conferences requiring more personal contact than a phone call would allow. This usually required a dedicated room, so when T1 lines became more common, the video vendors started marketing multimedia to the desktop.

Now you can dedicate an entire room to your video conferencing system, if you want to spend about $300,000 for a TelePresence product from a vendor such as Tandberg, Cisco, HP or LifeSize. Using this technology well and combining it with other business functions may be easier said than done.

Earlier this year, ABI Research published its video surveillance systems report. The author, Stan Schatt, warned there’s a gap between the physical security and IT departments, which needs to be closed now that modern surveillance systems are connected via Ethernet instead of coax cable.

Video is not just encroaching on wireline networks. With Bell Canada and Telus building an HSPA network to compete with Rogers, the demand among workers for video over cellular networks will increase. Whether you see video as a pain that needs to be alleviated, an expense to be eradicated or an opportunity that needs to be exploited, it will require a package of knowledge and skills that are not common today. That’s not to suggest each skill and tidbit of knowledge is uncommon. But it does mean not everyone is going to have the combination of skills in video capture, editing, wireless, wireline, hardware and software skills.

Perhaps you think we’re out to lunch, and skills is not the issue. Or maybe you have a story to share. Either way, let Canada’s IT community know what you think by clicking the comment button below.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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