Tavistock Development Company: building tomorrow’s city
The city of the future will be smart. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and driven by innovative, digital technologies the way in which we interact with urban environments - with our own homes - will change. Lake Nona, a 17-square-mile mecca for technology, innovation and community encompasses everything that makes the modern smart city so unique.
Located contiguous to Orlando International Airport, Lake Nona is a visionary community built on smart, digital technologies and which plays host to innovative, tech-focused companies and organizations.
The community is one of the core investments of Tavistock Development Company (TDC), itself a part of Tavistock Group. The latter is an international private investment organization with a portfolio of public investments and private companies in 13 countries worldwide.
TDC undertakes planning, design, hospitality, finance, construction and development projects focused on the future of design, technology and the human experience.
At Lake Nona, Juan Santos is responsible for that experience. Santos is Senior Vice President of Brand Experience and Innovation at TDC and a recognized expert and leader in design thinking, smart and responsive cities, virtual worlds, physical + digital, and loyalty and rewards. “Lake Nona is a really unique environment,” he says, “it’s a master-designed community that is created with the idea of a frictionless environment where people can truly thrive.
“Technology plays a critical role in how Lake Nona functions,” he continues. “We have three ‘growth engines’ that drive the concept of the smart community: health and wellness, which is driven by several really innovative and technology-focused health companies; training and human performance and collaborative innovation. Technology really underpins each of these engines, as well as the broader community itself. For example, we’ve had 1GB symmetrical fiber as standard for the past decade, we were a Google fiber standard city before any others and Cisco has designated Lake Nona as the only smart and connected community in the US. Innovation is really at the heart of everything that happens here.”
In such an environment connectivity is vital. As such, Santos explains, Lake Nona is a hotbed for 5G technology, from which it stands to benefit greatly.
“The whole idea of the environment we created was about offering unique connectivity,” he explains. “5G is absolutely going to be a critical part of that equation. So, as an example, we have autonomous shuttles that run throughout Lake Nona and they’re exactly the type of innovation that would benefit from 5G. It also provides a really great environment for testing 5G technologies and innovations, for example, and we have a host of companies based at Lake Nona ready to do that. There is also the potential for the development of specific smart labs, which we hope would be among the world’s finest, that are solely dedicated to better understanding the broader impact of 5G and its associated technologies.”
To achieve such innovation, collaboration plays a crucial role. SAP, for example, is a globally renowned leader in 5G and technology innovation and Santos shares that many of the businesses advancing in this field at Lake Nona benefit from SAP services.
“We’re a smart city - a lot of the core functions around us benefit from being a part of the SAP ecosystem. We use a very broad set of technologies at Lake Nona, and that’s really how we’ve nurtured that collaborative environment. SAP is highly experienced in working on these types of ecosystems.”
Looking more broadly at the technologies that will continue to facilitate Lake Nona’s growth, Santos explains that “from a trend perspective, it’s all about the complete system - we’ve set the standard for creating great places for people to work, and that makes them want to live in and enjoy this urban environment. On technologies specifically, I think that mobility will be a key aspect of how communities like Lake Nona change and thrive - the idea of mobility and micro-mobility is something that we’re putting a lot of thought into. For example, considering the best mechanisms for people to be able to best use Lake Nona in a way that has many modes of transport, you don’t always have to use a car and that - ultimately - you never even have to think about moving, you just think about your destination.
“That includes autonomous vehicles, powered bikes, intelligent forms of transportation that bring a whole new level of convenience. The ability to enjoy yourself is also crucial. To build a successful smart city you have to add a layer of art which is present throughout the community as well as attention to the smaller but important things like regular events, wellbeing and fitness classes. By having a place that is digitally, physically and humanly connected you can really enrich peoples’ lives."
The Talent War for Skilled Tech Workers
Post-pandemic, our biggest problem might be a lack of skilled tech talent. As companies move forward with their digital transformation plans, they aim to hire new staff and train their current employees. Out of 750 UK companies polled in a Studio Graphene digital report, 45% plan to hire new tech staff in the next 12 months and more than half (53%) intend to invest in training for their current workers.
Companies are realising that their survival now depends on a limited pool of qualified technology workers. Among the hardest-hit economies are those in Brazil, Indonesia, and Japan, but even the United States and the UK will experience the squeeze. “It’s pure supply and demand”, said Alan Guarino, a Korn Ferry vice-chairman. “Companies are paying more...but there’s still a shortage of high-skilled workers. Technology is the thread that runs across every aspect of business”.
Which Jobs Are In Demand?
According to a 2021 IT salary report by Robert Half Technology, the most in-demand tech jobs of the year include information security professionals, cloud architects, database administrators, systems analysts, and DevOps engineers, among others. But in those fields, it’s difficult to find hires with significant experience, multiple specialisations, and a high level of expertise. And multinationals such as Google, Apple, and IBM usually scoop them up.
Regardless of the exact role, companies need workers who can implement advanced security systems, target cloud and network vulnerabilities, document risk points and failures, and abide by new industry tech regulations. This will likely mean that companies start to take certifications like the ones pioneered by Google and Amazon, instead of insisting on four-year undergraduate degrees.
But even as coding boot camps and year-long certification programmes have ramped up to try to close the gap, smaller tech firms and startups struggle to compete with their bigger counterparts. Remote work doesn’t help matters. “Hire-from-anywhere policies will only heat up a tight candidate market”, said Ryan Sutton, a district president of technology staffing services at Robert Half. “Companies who were already having a hard time recruiting are no longer just working against local competitors, but potentially desirable companies across the country”.
How Can CIOs Solve the Crisis?
As governments try to do their part—Poland offers residency and potential citizenship to skilled tech workers, India offers broad IT, telecommunications, and cybersecurity programmes, and the Netherlands lets its foreign employees earn 30% tax-free income—company executives must take measures of their own.
Some CIOs have started looking to other countries to source expert talent. In the United States, where 80% of U.S. employers state that tech recruiting is a significant challenge, some firms are looking to Mexico, where 20% of college graduates have engineering degrees. As a result, tech companies such as Cisco and Intel have sourced labour from both the U.S. and Mexico.
To compete, here are some first steps:
- Invest in cybersecurity and cloud development training programmes
- Hire based on skills and expertise, not necessarily degrees
- Outsource to other countries with high percentages of skilled engineers and programmers
Overall, companies that broaden their search for talent and upskill their current employees will be best equipped for digital transformation. As Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said: “Our research shows that, on the whole, UK businesses have adopted a long-term mindset [towards] technology and innovation”.