Information Communication Technologies & Digital Media Sector Team

No matter what industry or sector you’re in, it seems that COVID-19 accelerated the pace of change by about five years and brought the future here faster than anyone could have imagined at the beginning of 2020.

Understanding and adapting to that change was the theme of the recent ICT Fireside Chat hosted by ICT-DM Regional Director Susanne Mata. The event featured a “state of the sector” overview from Statewide Director Steve Wright and a panel with industry leaders about how the shift to remote work and other changes associated with COVID-19 have impacted their operations.

During his presentation, Wright shared that the ICT-DM sector will be creating collaboratives for each of its three subsectors, IT-Cyber, Digital Media & Entertainment, and Business Office Systems. Each collaborative will include faculty, business leaders, and government stakeholders.

“We surveyed about 3,000 faculty and industry reps in our ICT network, and 181 indicated their interest in participating in the new statewide sector collaboratives,” Wright said. “The collaboratives will focus on employer engagement, curriculum development/implementation, and student access/success.”

Wright also discussed that students are adapting quickly to remote learning and now see hybrid models as the “new normal.” They are also beginning to realize the potential that remote work brings and are beginning to broaden their job searches beyond their immediate regions.

The industry Q&A followed Wright’s presentation. Panelists were:

  • David Cumbow, Systems Engineering Manager, Palo Alto Networks
  • Sergio D’Alessio, CEO/Network Engineer, Quietstone Computing Solutions
  • Patrick Lane, Products Director, CompTIA
  • Stephen Monteros, Vice President of Sales, Public Sector, ConvergeOne
  • David Thurston, Chief Technology Officer, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (moderator)

Everyone agreed that the pandemic had brought the future to their organizations about five years faster than they were planning, which meant they needed to adapt quickly to remain competitive and ensure they could continue delivering for their customers. The shift was perhaps the most dramatic for CompTIA, which previously made its revenue from in-person exams.

“We actually made no revenue for about four to five weeks. That was staggering, so CompTIA began a series of contingency plans,” Lane said. “Within five weeks, we worked with Pearson Vue to change our entire business from on-ground tests to online tests after 30 years of on-ground exams.”

While the shift to remote work has brought new opportunities, it’s also placed a strain on employees’ mental health. Cumbow noted that sitting in back-to-back Zoom meetings all day eliminates the opportunity for people to regroup and clear their minds between them like they used to be able to do while physically moving from one meeting to the next.

“The pandemic is already heightening anxiety: you have people worried about their mental health, physical health, financial health. You’re asking people to change their entire work

environment,” Cumbow said. “We need to teach our employees those skills and work with existing employees to revamp those skills.”

To watch a recording of the ICT Fireside Chat, visit

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