ORLANDO — BICSI, the association advancing the information and communications technology (ICT) community, brought its 2019 Winter Conference & Exhibition to the sunny climes of central-Florida.

Thousands of industry professionals representing countries from all over the world, took part in more than 30 technical sessions and networked with nearly 180 exhibitors during the five-day conference. Attendees enjoyed events exclusively seen at BICSI Winter Conferences, including the New Product Pavilion showcase in the Exhibit Hall, the BICSI Annual Membership Meeting, and the Cabling Skills Challenge.
On the show floor Mission Critical magazine spoke at length with Lauren Straub, director, Americas sales, Molex. Following are her viewpoints on BICSI and trends effecting structured cabling solutions:

MC: Why are you here at BICSI; what are you showing?
Lauren Straub: We are happy to be at the show this year talking about structured cabling solutions; Molex has been known for that for three decades. More recently, the Transcend CoreSync platform, built on an infrastructure of copper and fiber optics products, this extends our support for sensors, lighting, and other environmental controls so that when a customer comes to one of the designers or consultants here asking for an intelligent office building, manufacturing facility, or data center, the question, “What does that mean?” can be answered. The answer means visibility to the air quality, temperature, or other environmental data that can be gathered in such a way as to act on the data. Maybe it’s in HVAC or lighting control or occupancy reporting.

MC: What is the biggest challenge facing the designers who attend a show like BICSI?
Straub: Two major challenges face them. The growing demands on performance of the network is one. Historically, looking at the excellent work that has been done with termination and putting structured cabling into buildings, a lot of things have worked for organizations. They’ve been able to get up to gigabit networking and that has been great. The performance challenge going forward is where businesses really press on 10 gigabit and look to even beyond that; the quality of the components of the infrastructure are more important and make a noticeable difference. The commercial quality manufacturers that we see here at the show are speaking to that challenge.

A second challenge is the intelligent building. A few years ago at this show we were having discussions about the digital ceiling. [Attendees asked] “What is it?” Last year we were asked, “What is a smart building? How can I get one?” The conversation has accelerated: I believe the community at this show is being asked to deliver smart buildings to customers. What we want to do at BICSI is show how it works, and how we’re providing all the elements of it, and be the partner that can help them develop a successful and profitable business delivering smart buildings to their customers.

MC: Net zero buildings are all the talk in engineering and construction. How do you plan for that vision in your efforts?
Straub: We are asking ourselves what are the building owners requiring in their properties and how does that also transfer to the requirements of their customers in the building’s environment. Hospitality is a great example of an industry with amalgamations of many disparate technologies, and have traditionally not spoken to each other very easily. Now we are discussing what types of platforms are required such as whether they are communicating or not. And to the point of customer requirements: Do their customers simply want to be able to conveniently plug devices in for recharging rather than have multiple 110 outlets spaced every few feet apart?

MC: What is innovative and changing in your business that keeps you excited about cable and wire?
Straub: We are constantly pressing up against the edge of copper in terms of performance in buildings. We now see the applications and the computing devices are demanding greater performance. The network in the ebb and flow of technology becomes the limiting factor. I think we are on the edge of a frontier for copper and a transition to fiber that is really exciting. That’s what keeps me involved in it; if you think about twisted pair cabling which is a century-old Alexander Graham Bell technology that is still in use today and still works. I love the elegance of the technology that is still the basis of all that is new in the industry.

MC: The wireless world that we live in today requires a lot of wire. Is that going to change?
Straub: Regarding the world of wireless, we are excited about 5G; more and more wireless technologies are demanding higher performance in the underlying backhaul network, in many cases demanding more power. So for delivery of power over ethernet (PoE), the high quality controls and the high bandwidth that those technologies require, we are excited about that. I think it does demand a lot more in the sophistication of modern wiring technologies for supporting the move to wireless.

In theory the industry has been in a place where a company could dominate it for a very long time. But what makes a difference is that the customers have a wide variety of providers they can work with which keeps this very competitive, for which I’m very grateful. We have people who value what Molex can provide to them.