By the end of this year, it’s predicted that 26 billion devices will be part of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a big investment for many organisations, so they’ll want to see value from it quickly. But investing in the hardware itself is just half the equation. You also need the right people working on the IoT to ensure that it delivers results. That’s why IoT skills will be in high demand over the coming years.
In fact, 76 per cent of business leaders say that they lack higher-level IoT specialists in their organisation. 80 per cent feel that they don’t have the necessary skills in-house to maintain their IoT devices and a third feel that there’s a major skills gap looming in IoT readiness. For forward-thinking candidates, upskilling in IoT skills will set you apart and futureproof your career. But what skills should you focus on?
IoT security is a hot topic – for good reason. The more devices you connect to the Internet, the more potential weak spots for a data hack or breach. Organisations need IoT security experts who understand how to secure the network, maintain the security of individual (and sometimes remote) devices and check for new threats or weaknesses. Skills wise that means being familiar with public key infrastructure (PKI) security, ethical hacking and wireless network security – as a starting point.
Boosting IoT security will improve the uptake of the technology too. Bain & Company has found that, “Enterprise customers would be willing to buy more IoT devices if their concerns about cybersecurity risks were addressed – on average, at least 70 per cent more than what they might buy if their concerns remain unresolved.”
User experience (UX)
Consumers and employees won’t engage with the IoT if it isn’t user-friendly. People who know how to improve the interfaces between devices and users will be invaluable. That’ll involve knowing UX best practice and staying up-to-date with emerging knowledge. Understanding responsive web design and service design would also be useful.
Business intelligence and data science
Most of the value in the IoT comes from using the data it collects. Organisations will need IoT specialists who understand how to work with data. Namely, how to structure it, analyse it, compile reports and visualisations, communicate with the wider organisation and define data projects. Predictive analytics is set to be a huge use case for the IoT, because of the ability to proactively maintain machinery, monitor remote equipment in dangerous places (oil rigs, for example) and predict when something will break down, thereby reducing downtime.
Organisations will also need IoT engineers who can set devices up, maintain them and launch wireless IoT networks. This will require a deep understanding of APIs and how to make devices integrate well with each other. It also needs experience in networks like WiFi and Bluetooth. Knowledge of wireless sensor modelling, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and AutoCAD design might also prove helpful.
Many career options
The IoT will affect us all, across every organisation and industry. The breadth of skills required reflects this. For candidates, there are many career routes that you can explore within the IoT. It’s worth considering this now. When the IoT gathers momentum, you’ll be first in line for the lucrative jobs it’ll create.
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