Cisco forecasts over 4.6 billion internet users by 2021
On Thursday, technology giants Cisco revealed that there will be another one billion people using the Internet by the year 2021, raising the number of users to a total of 4.6 billion.
Despite this, the figures suggest that 42% of the world's population will still be without Internet access.
The increase in connectivity was one of many projections at Cisco's 12th Visual Networking Index, whilst the risk of DDoS attacks was also highlighted as a key area in Internet of Things connections.
IoT will represent around half of all connections in five years' time, with a growth from 5.6 billion connections to around 13.7 billion.
Healthcare will be the biggest benefactors of the technological revolution, growing 30% annually with the introduction of connected appliances such as medicine dispensers and health monitors.
Content on the Internet will boom - streaming will increase with video making up 80% of all internet traffic in 2021, with nearly 1.9 billion video users. One million video minutes will be viewed every single second, with this equating to five million years of video consumed per month.
Emerging mediums such as live video streaming will go from strength to strength and grow fifteen-fold to 13% of all Internet traffic, with on-demand viewing helping to propel the entertainment mode to new heights.
Meanwhile, virtual reality is expecting to play a major role and will represent 1% of global entertainment traffic, which is a 20-fold increase from figures from 2016.
DDos attacks have risen by 172% in 2016 and this figure is expected to grow exponentially, reaching 3.1 million globally by 2021.
Average broadband speeds are expected to increase from 27.5 Mbps to 53.0 Mbps, whilst global IP traffic will increase three-fold and reach an annual run rate of 3.3 zettabytes.
This is linked to the projection that public wifi hotspots will grow from 94 million to 541 million, with mobile-connected devices and wifi providing 73% of all Internet traffic.
The Middle East and Africa will enjoy the biggest growth in regional traffic, with projections suggesting an increase of 42% by 2021.
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”.