IoT and Job Security: To Fear or To Embrace IoT Innovation?

Excitement for the explosive growth currently underway in the IoT market is accompanied by a silent yet brewing concern over job security. Cisco predicts a $19 trillion IoT market with 50 billion connected objects by 2022 As IoT technology is increasingly being adopted across professional fields, governments, municipalities and large and small enterprises view the potential benefits with half a smile, fearing potential displacement of large segments of employees by the automation of tasks and complex processes.

The growth of the IoT market need not intimidate businesses. As IoT continues to transform industries, opportunities for existing technical experts and low-skilled workers are emerging, calling on us to prepare our talent for future industry trends and skills demand.

Experts agree automation has the potential to save costs, increase revenue, enhance efficiency and improve safety, security and productivity. Automation involves sensory devices such as machines, robots or computers doing the work that is currently being done by human workers. For more on IoT and what it means for businesses, you can refer to my previous LinkedIn article, IoT and the Sixth Sense.

A cursory glance tells us that this development will pose a threat to the utility of existing and future professionals whose responsibilities will be overtaken by computers. Yet as we have witnessed throughout history, the perceived ‘problem’ of technological advancement always presents opportunities for human ingenuity

Jobs that IoT will create
Two immediate large scale vacancies will open with the introduction of IoT in any given discipline:

1. Skilled employees who have spent years working in jobs that are being taken over by automation are suited to assume roles in knowledge transfer. Human expertise and intelligence will always be required to transfer data analytics towards actions in the field. Data analysts specializing in interpretation and visualization will be in high demand as the amount of data recorded by and communicated between machines will rise steeply, necessitating coherent interpretation and visualization of complex information thus allowing businesses to make informed decisions. A good example of this need in the IoT optimized oil and gas industry – specifically in a smart oil field – is illustrated in this Automation World article.

2. Recent graduates and STEM students are suited to be trained in the field of data science. This will be one of the most in-demand categories of jobs that will follow IoT wherever the technology is introduced. Collecting, mining, structuring and developing the wealth of accumulated data and utilizing them on computers with the use of deep learning and artificial intelligence are the key to making the most use of IoT for continuous improvement. To facilitate this shift, universities, and technical institutions will need to adapt to the changing market requirements and expand their course offerings with data analysis, and data science to prepare for the future workforce.

Several other job categories will emerge with the growing implementation of IoT platforms around the globe, and a host of skills will be in greater demand for the Internet of Things to take off. Given that these sensory devices are physical entities, they will need to be manufactured, tested, bought and sold, shipped, deployed, integrated, commissioned, monitored, maintained and repaired. Field work will always be required in this space and is likely to continue to grow.

Embrace IoT for all of its advantages. Find out where you fit within this sphere, and make sure your career plan positions you well for the inevitable tech revolution.

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