The Internet of Things (IoT) is booming and is set to define the world over the next few years. From smart stovetops to AI assistants, the IoT it setting out to make us smarter and more productive both at home and in the office.
According to a previous Gartner study, there will be more than 20.4 billion connected products in use by 2020 while industry spending will reach an estimated $2 trillion in 2017. North America, Western Europe and Asia were named as regions where connected technology will thrive the most. And based on multiple reports from last year, these continents made up 62 percent of the IoT installed base.
We can’t deny that IoT presents consumers and businesses with a unique and exciting opportunity. With connected devices, anything from daily tasks to research can be done within seconds and without worry. However, from the employment point-of-view, the IoT takeover can be worrisome. As more companies invest in IoT and automation strategies, many people fear that they’ll be out of jobs in the future. Likewise, there are some industry experts who believe that the IoT can and will create a new breed of job opportunities. For one, humans are an essential part in the creation and advancement of IoT technologies, as well as the crucial factor in maintaining them. In fact, within the industry, there is an urgency for professionals who can ensure that connected systems don’t get out of control and become a security hazard – which may mean the IoT will create an employment boost.
The first factor that indicates a job revolution are security opportunities in IoT. 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.
One industry expect, Glen Pearse, a 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 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 told technology media company, IDG Connect.
However, Pearse also 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.
Pearse adds that another area of growth is in artificial intelligence and data science skills. “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.”
Another industry expert, Ian Hughes, who serves as an analyst at 451 Research, says there will “obviously be roles for hybrid hardware and software engineers.” However, because the number of connected devices is rapidly growing with each day, businesses will have to deal with an increasing amount of very complex data. In order to keep on top of this omnipresent flow of information, Hughes believes businesses will need to hire big data experts. Similarly to Pearse, he believes that they’ll play a crucial role in the industry. This could also mean that there will be an increase in the need for data scientists and security experts. As IoT architectures evolve to distribute computing and data storage patterns, richer technical skills will be required for building teams to help configure those.
While it seems like our handy and innovative little connected devices have been around for quite some time, the IoT sector is still considered to be in its early stages, where investments and acquisitions are still commonplace. An analyst from IDC believes spending on this new sector could reach $1.4 trillion by 2021. However, it is still a risky industry. Professions in this sector will need to be self-starters who can master technology but also manage more business-oriented tasks. They will also have to be multi-skilled people who will be able to understand the combination of data, analytics and AI/machine learning. Additionally, 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 startup 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.