How the Internet of Things will create a jobs revolution

The Internet of Things industry is set to define the world over the next few years. Tech pundits believe that in the foreseeable future, we’ll be surrounded by internet-connected objects. From smart kettles to AI assistants, this technology will make us smarter and more productive – both at home and in the workplace.

According to Gartner, there’ll be 20.4 billion connected products in use by 2020, and spending in this lucrative industry reached an estimated $2 trillion in 2017. The research firm has named North America, Western Europe and Asia as regions where this technology will thrive the most. Last year alone, these continents made up 62 per cent of the IoT installed base.

There’s no denying the fact that IoT presents consumers and businesses with a unique and exciting opportunity. But at the same time, there’s been some worry, especially from an employment point-of-view – as more companies invest in IoT and automation strategies, many people fear that they’ll be out of jobs in the future.

However, there are plenty of industry pundits who believe that the Internet of Things will actually create a new breed of job opportunities. Not only are humans needed to make these technologies in the first place, but they’re also crucial in maintaining them. There’s an urgency for professionals who can ensure that connected systems don’t get out of control and become a security hazard, too. Here’s how IoT will result in an employment boost.


Security opportunities

While connected technologies offer lots of benefits, they can also be dangerous. Cyber crooks have already amassed millions of IoT devices to launch major cyber attacks, and there’s nothing stopping hackers from getting into driverless vehicles to cause serious harm to humans. As a result, there’s now a demand for IoT security professionals.

Glen Pearse, managing consultant of IT at Heat Recruitment, believes that the most noticeable change will be the number of security jobs created in the tech sector. “It’s a huge sector without including IoT, but the more connectivity we see across the globe, the more vulnerabilities come to light. In addition, we’re going to need far more developers to meet this demand – even though the current market for embedded developers is still remarkably niche,” he tells us.

However, he argues that there’ll be a serious skills crisis if academic institutions and companies are unable to create the right professionals. “To meet the requirement, more developers are going to need to pivot their skillset and move on to hardware coding using C and C++, for example, in addition to their current Full Stack experience. Until IoT becomes secure and, most of all stable, we will see a huge rise in consultancy services – including security analysts and security consultancy specialists,” he explains.


Data science bods

Pearse says there’ll be an increasing amount of companies that need employees with artificial intelligence and data science skills as well. He adds: “But developers are still reluctant to take the plunge into a full IoT skillset. It’s just too unpredictable an industry, but these skills eventually need to be brought in-house. Once the teething stages have been summited, and the right security or embedded specialists are in place, the sky’s the limit in terms of IoT jobs – it’s set to have the same impact as radio first did.”

Ian Hughes, an analyst at 451 Research, says there’ll be “obvious roles for hybrid hardware and software engineers”. However, as the number of connected devices grows in volume, businesses will have to deal with increasing masses of complex data. In order to keep on top of this influx of information, Hughes tells us that businesses will need to hire big data experts. Like Pearse, he believes that they’ll play a crucial role in the industry.

“IoT also increases the need for data scientist and security experts, [which] as our survey data already shows are short supply. As IoT architectures evolve to distributed computing and data storage patterns, richer technical skills will be required for build teams to configure those. As user interfaces adjust to represent full digital twins 3D design and data integration will also become more of a requirement,” he says.


Other roles

Although the Internet of Things sector is still in the early stages, investments and acquisitions are already commonplace. Analyst company IDC claims that spending on connected technology will reach $1.4 trillion by 2021. Tim Stone, venture partner director of IoT investment company Breed Reply, expects to see “IoT investor” roles increase in the foreseeable future. They’re responsible for finding innovative IoT start-ups and turning them into profitable enterprises.

“The role of the specialist IoT investor is going to grow and become more crucial over the coming years as the adoption and demand for IoT technology increases. More and more industries and sectors are switching on to the need for IoT to help create new business models and increase productivity. Start-ups, somewhat understandably, tend to initially work with traditional technology VCs, as they dominate the market,” he tells us.

Stone admits, though, that IoT is still a risky and challenging sector. The industry’s professionals will need to be self-starters who can master technology but also manage more business-oriented tasks. He concludes: “However, IoT has its own unique challenges and requires a different set of skills and experience than perhaps other technologies. In particular, being able to get to grips with the combination of data and analytics, AI and machine learning as well as in many cases developing devices. Importantly, success depends on being able to then commercialize the technology and as IoT companies start to generate revenue there are job roles created as a result, both at the tech level, such as data scientists, and at the business level, with sales and other critical roles.”

Josh Matteson, from American home services start-up Lula, says that “smart building maintenance” roles will crop up as the area evolves. “Within the next five years, we are going to see a whole new type of home maintenance. With everyone racing to become the household name in smart home devices, there is going to be a huge demand for smart home professionals,” he says.

“With the IoT making home connectivity a reality, the average homeowner may struggle to install the technology themselves. This will create a whole new set of jobs for smart home experts. Within this five-year time frame, smart homes will be considered less of a luxury, and more of a normal household concept. This will increase the number of questions, repairs, and installations.”

Over the next decade or so, it’ll be impossible for consumers and businesses to shy away from the Internet of Things. It couldn’t be clearer that the sector will define the way we live and work. Although the industry is still in its infancy, it’ll create so many opportunities – including new types of jobs. While these examples focus on design, security and investment in particular, we’ll likely see more advanced jobs come to fruition.

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