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We begin by summarizing the major findings of the ICTC Wireless Technology Roadmap. This is followed by our recommendations on how the results of this first of a new kind of roadmap, can best be utilized to meet the human resource needs of industry. We conclude with a summary of the results of the stakeholders' meeting (May 15, 2007), organized by ICTC to validate this report and begin the work of building the wireless skills needed in the coming decade.
Wireless technology is entering middle age. Almost four decades have passed since Motorola first demonstrated its landmark wireless cell phone technology in New York City. Mobile cellular service is still the dominant application, in 2007 it represented a worldwide market of over a halftrillion US$. To put cellular into perspective, the next three applications combined represent less than 10 percent of this market. The remaining applications, all told, represent less than 5 percent.
|World Wireless Markets 91|
|World Mobile Services||2004||454.00|
|World Telecom Equipment||2003||300.00|
|Mobile Healthcare||2006||16.40 92|
|Mobile Internet Access||2005||2.40|
|Fixed Wireless Broadband||2006||1.50|
|Mobile Device Management||2004||0.50|
|IP Multimedia Subsystems||2006||0.00|
In this phase of the technology lifecycle of the second global wireless industry (2004–2024, see Chapter 3: The Wireless Industry), innovation has significantly shifted from product to process innovation. In this later growth stage, the dominance of process innovation is driven by the relentless pressure of serving mass markets at increasingly competitive prices in the context of single-digit growth. Sustained double-digit growth has shifted to developing markets.
In the advanced economies, the tightening straightjacket of established practices, reflected in the importance of standards and regulation all anchored by the existing infrastructure of large public companies, further steer innovation in the direction of incremental product improvements. The technological systems needed to fully exploit wireless applications are dependent on process innovation and increasingly on critical inputs from younger areas like software. In the later growth phase, the bottom line is that the industry's greatest economic potential lies more in the modification and tailoring of existing products and services than in the introduction of disruptive technologies. This is a period of modest but steady growth as dominant applications are fully built out to reach maximum market penetration. The spillover of declining costs opens up new applications that can expand rapidly, but are relatively small compared to the dominant market.
Of the applications selected for this roadmap, systems integration squarely addresses the dominant mobile cellular telephony market. As operators' voice revenues continue to decline (see Chapter 3: The Wireless Industry), data applications will become ever more important in filling this gap. The ability to seamlessly integrate multiple applications on mobile devices is critical in serving the fast growing data market:
Mobile multiplayer gaming also addresses a vibrant market in which Canada has a significant concentration of companies, in both Vancouver and Montreal. It, too, promises to help carriers fill the void left by the decline in voice revenues.
The third application, mobile backhaul for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) recognizes Canada's need for wide-area sensor networks to improve urban transportation: we are one of the world's most urbanized societies. It is significant that of the three applications selected by the steering committee, only this one centres on product innovation. Both systems integration and mobile multiplayer gaming focus on process innovation.
Software engineering and systems integration are major process technologies that will play a significant role in enabling the build-out of wireless applications over the next two decades.
The maturity phase of wireless (2024–2033), will be marked by a slow decline of growth toward that of the overall economy. It lies well beyond the ten-year time horizon of this report. However, the young technologies that will eclipse the slowing growth of wireless with revolutions of their own have already been born. These disruptive technologies will find their way into wireless as enabling inputs in its declining years. Two such technologies are nanotechnologies and quantum computing.
Nanotechnologies will play a central role in recasting microelectronics as molecular electronics where small numbers of atoms will replace classic circuit elements like transistors, resistors and capacitors. In quantum computing, the first primitive quantum computer is already a reality (see Chapter 3: The Wireless Industry). Such developments will shape new computing paradigms that will continue the progress associated with Moore's Law. Future versions of this roadmap should pay close attention to such developments, since such inputs will be a primary force for innovation in the coming maturity stage of the second global wireless industry.
A technology roadmap can take many different forms and serve many different purposes. When written by a corporation, it is usually intended to document the R&D programs that will support the corporation's product migration strategy (usually over a five-year horizon). When written by a consortium of companies, it typically forecasts technology developments that are likely to become available for exploitation by industry.
Over the years, Canada's high-technology industry, with the help of governments and trade associations, has prepared technology roadmaps for sectors like aerospace and microelectronics. Such roadmaps were built around technology but emphasized other topics that were of major concern to the industry, like regulations, financing mechanisms and government incentives.
This wireless technology roadmap is a direct result of the ICTC Technology Vision Conference (TVC) of March 2006. It reached consensus on the central importance of human resources in building a world-class wireless industry. Canada represents a small part of world wireless activity, a global reality. The issue is how best to use it.
The key question that should be addressed is: "Who can make use of this roadmap, and what should that use be?" In answering that question, it is helpful to refer to Canada's microelectronics industry which is world-class, even though Canada does not have its own cutting-edge fabrication facilities.
Microelectronics is an industry in which government, academia and corporations have worked closely together over the years through initiatives such as the CMC Microsystems, 94 the Strategic Microelectronics Consortium (taken over by the Information Technology Association of Canada in 2002), and several strategy documents, some of which were really technology roadmaps. One of the reasons that collaboration has worked so well is that most of the initiatives were related in one way or another to industry's human resource requirements.
Microelectronics is the only industry in Canada that has a university post-graduate program (supported through CMC Microsystems) dedicated specifically to its human resource needs. CMC presently involves over 2300 faculty and graduate students at 42 universities and one college. It provides Microsystems researchers with industry-calibre design resources, access to state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies and support services. CMC has won international acclaim for its achievements in developing Canada's capabilities in microelectronics. The lesson that should be taken from the microelectronics experience is that such collaboration works well when it is heavily focused on any industry's most important ingredient, namely, the human resources available to it.
It is expected that the focus on the three selected wireless application areas will be helpful to entrepreneurs wishing to launch such companies, to investors wishing to finance them and above all to the human resource managers in existing companies. This document should be particularly helpful to educators because a number of skills were identified that are "off the beaten path" but very important. For example, it was pointed out that increased globalization results in many projects that span multiple countries and cultures — requiring human interaction skills that are not given much priority in our education systems. It was also pointed out that the industry is dominated by SMEs that have limited skills development resources.
There was a broad consensus among members of the ICTC Wireless Technology Roadmap Steering Committee and workshop attendees that the roadmap should be updated at regular intervals in the future (that is, it should be a "living document"). They also recommended that it be distributed to several trade associations: the skills in all three applications extend well beyond traditional high-technology skills pools.
The roadmap should assist ICT-related organizations in government, industry and academia in their own strategic planning initiatives. An important message that has been delivered is that wireless is approaching maturity, with critical implications for innovation, the skills required to realize it and supporting technologies like software. Most importantly, the roadmap provides a comprehensive model to pinpoint essential skills and relate them to the specifics of the Canadian wireless industry.
A WTRM Validation Meeting was held on May 15th, 2007 to solicit final comments on the roadmap and to confirm the ideas and recommendations that had been articulated throughout the 6 focus groups. Approximately thirty participants attended, including representatives from industry, academia, trade associations, government departments, wireless and spectrum consultants, and the project's funding partners. Its main purpose was to solicit feedback from key stakeholders on the relevancy and appropriateness of the roadmap content and to share project ideas, in relation to the development of wireless skills. The meeting also provided an opportunity to emphasize particular points or add depth where it was felt to be needed. The results of those discussions have been incorporated into the roadmap under the relevant headings.
The stakeholders validated the model of wireless industry developments and the skills required to successfully adapt to them. The following are projects for further exploration that will assist in moving the wireless sector in Canada forward, and advance the skills that have been deemed necessary throughout this report.
Greater efforts are needed to reach into the early levels of the Canadian education system (elementary and secondary schools) in order to educate young students on the wireless industry and the opportunities it may present. There is a particularly strong need to attract more females to the technical fields in general and to the wireless field in particular.
Formal curriculae at all levels of education should involve cross disciplinary projects where students have the opportunity to develop and mesh their technical and wireless skills with business and management skills. Examples were provided — Algonquin College is looking at integrating their wireless program with their business program while the University of Waterloo has developed a program in Entrepreneurship for IT graduates.
Guidance counsellors have a unique role to play. They can help change perceptions, thereby encouraging more young people to consider careers in the wireless and technical fields. Moreover, several felt that workshops are needed to train and educate Canadian guidance counsellors. ICTC should also work with universities and colleges to help them implement and roll out their wireless programs.
Since SMEs make up the majority of Canada's wireless industry, special efforts should be made to help SMEs develop the wireless skills of their employees, especially since these skills are becoming increasingly multi-disciplinary, and more difficult to find, even in Canada's larger firms (due to the globalization factors that have been discussed throughout this report).
Specific case studies on SMEs should be considered to determine how those skills can be improved. Such case studies should also examine SME management skills because new business models and globalization factors mean that team building and project management skills are now critical to the growth of most Canadian SMEs.
Participants felt that there has to be even more interaction between industry (particularly SMEs) and the universities and colleges. One proposal was to encourage Canadian SMEs to use their facilities to expose students to the project management and other skills they require. Canada should also continue to develop co-op programs as they expose students to the rapid shifts in the technology and skills requirements.
Other ways that industry and academia can interact is through science fairs (which increase student awareness of the technology), joint projects (where students assist with actual industry projects), and joint marketing campaigns (where industry and academia develop campaigns to encourage enrollment in technical fields). Industry and academia also need to work together to demonstrate to young people that mathematical and technical skills are very important to their future and they need to work together to inform the Canadian media of the value of technical skills. They can also work together in the area of job profiling, which is the identification of the skills needed to deliver their products and services.
Participants felt that there is a general lack of understanding of how other countries' skills can fit with the needs of Canadian industry. This situation reinforces the need for certification in the trades and the professions. The ability to perform the job was viewed as much more important than the number of years of experience. The retraining of Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) and misplaced workers should be based on company needs.
This report defines the major wireless skills that will enhance Canada as a wireless leader in the global market, and provides a timeline of when various skills will be most relevant. Further analysis, to narrow in on the number of trained workers that will be required for each of the identified skills in the report, and to explore the potential supply that will be available, would help to ensure there is no gap and that supply can meet demand.
It is important that industry, education and government come together to create programs that promote the necessary skills that are needed in the IT sector, specifically wireless, and assist in training and retraining employees. Partnership programs such as Vitesse have been successful at this goal; with a mandate to meet the constantly evolving needs of high tech industry, Vitesse (Re-Skilling) retrains and re-skills science and engineering graduates to take advantage of current and emerging opportunities in a variety of IT related fields. The program was created in 1996 through a partnership between NRC, the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and knowledge-sector employers. A program such as this would be very beneficial when applied to the wireless sector and the skills articulated in the roadmap.
Technology drives skills — through the creation of new industries and the reshaping of long established ones. The forces that drive this process and the recurring patterns that characterize it are increasingly well understood. It is up to us to act.
94 Originally launched in 1984 through a university, industry and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) initiative as the Canadian Microelectronics Corporation. (Return to text)
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