Everyone speaks about the Internet of Things, by now most people know what it is and some start-ups and young professionals are knees deep in IoT.
If it’s relatively new for you, I’m sure that you know and probably have or use one or more consumer IoT applications, maybe even without realizing it. A smart meter, some wearable device, connected technology in your home or car, IoT technology powering an application in one of your favourite shops, the list is long.
Year after year the number of connected devices is growing and impressive numbers are released about what is yet to come. However, the real staggering growth numbers of IoT are elsewhere: in how it’s transforming industries, powering start-ups, changing how we solve societal challenges and boosting demand for IoT-related jobs.
IoT profiles, skills and job trends.
Just check out the IoT job trend graphic from www.indeed.com, posted on February 2017 below: that is what we call exponential growth. Organizations, from very large to small and medium, face the same challenges: a lack of skills to realize their IoT ambitions.
In a 2017 survey 47% of organizations said they lack the skills to make the most from IoT at a delivery level. Moreover, IoT does not stand on its own: connected applications need data, analysis, networks and the people who are specialized in one of these areas
IoT also impacts organizations by creating new positions and job descriptions such as Chief Internet of Things Officer (CIoTO), IoT Architect, IoT software engineer, Business Designer, IoT Stack and platform Developers and more.
Existing jobs are changing too and some become more important. If you have or seek a career in buildings, energy, logistics, retail, sustainability or manufacturing, for instance, the demand for digital-savvy Millennials with IoT-related skills is on the rise, as is the usage of IoT.
The IoT skills which are most in demand revolve around technology: network engineers, developers, data scientists, data analysts or specialists in technological aspects of the just mentioned industries and areas of application.
However, to really stand out and build your career in this fast-growing Internet of Things world, there are some skills which are less mentioned but at least as important.
Customer skills for digital transformation champions.
At the center of success in digital transformation and IoT projects is a deep understanding of what customers want in this digital age. The customer experience, user experience and understanding of the voice and true will of the customer is what makes or breaks digital transformation. As I highlighted in a recent blog post, digitally mature companies derive more revenue from their physical assets (+9%), are more profitable (+26%) and have overall higher market valuations (+12%).
But to extract the most value out of a digital transformation, companies need to be obsessed by their customers. Being customer-centric and able to fully turn the changing expectations and will of people into innovative solutions and IoT applications that customers value is both an art and a skill. Those that master it are the champions of tomorrow.
The ability and will to continuously learn.
Companies fight to attract IoT talents. However, many of the mentioned jobs are new.
One of the challenges faced by businesses today is that graduates are not educated and trained in the areas required in the modern world. Continuous education is needed, not just for young professionals but also for older generations.
To address this need, new training organizations have emerged, such as the IoT Talent Consortium. Career advancement and training opportunities are also offered to people who work for, or start up, businesses in industries that are transformed by IoT.
An entrepreneurial and innovative mindset: coal mine canaries wanted.
Most young professionals are digital natives and often have an entrepreneurial mindset and will to operate in varying circumstances. It’s the kind of flexibility the IoT needs: an appetite for change and agility.
On top of that organizations seek innovative and creative thinkers who see what’s happening in markets before anyone else does. They see the new digital evolutions and what they mean for companies.
Brian Solis in “Change Agents: The Unsung Heroes Of Digital Transformation”, states that: “Change agents are often early adopters of digital trends who want to help their companies modernize. (…)They recognize the impact of digital and they’re driven to help their organizations adapt. However, they may lack the experience or authority to lead digital transformation at the enterprise level”. I wrote similar words in my book , I called the change agents, “Digital Mine Canaries”: Another important aspect when dealing with people in a digital transformation environment is that there is often someone who will understand the necessary steps to digital transformation before the rest of the peers and thus challenge the status quo. Those within the corporation who recognize the need for change often face marginalization from the minds of the “analog” leaders and skepticism from peers. My conclusion is an Ode to Digital Mine Canaries.
Modern organizations seek such visionaries who see what others don’t.
The ability to collaborate in diversity.
Most organizations transform from the edge as I call it in my book: they maintain their existing markets and channels, while investing money in new opportunities at the edge of their core offerings.
As a business transforms from the edge, one of its challenges is to manage various teams, including existing staff, team members dedicated to the new digital technology and staff that straddles both worlds. Younger people often have a much greater affinity for new technologies and rapid change, while members of the older generations often have a deep understanding of the business, its processes, channels and markets.
Smart managers realize the great opportunity in mixing different generations with a common purpose towards digital transformation despite different cultures and generations.
Smart young professionals are able to work more closely together with greater understanding for the strengths and weaknesses of workers from different generations. They know how to truly collaborate in diversity.
Seizing the opportunities.
Companies get disrupted by new technologies such as IoT, by changing customer preferences, by start-ups and by their peers who are digitally transforming. It is why all the mentioned skillsets are essential.
Your unique opportunity is to leverage those you have, master new ones and be a leader in the world of IoT and digital transformation. The opportunities are there, the choice is yours.
Nicolas Windpassinger is the author of “Internet of Things: Digitize or Die“. With 15+ years of computer networking industry experience, Nicolas Windpassinger is the Global Vice President of Schneider Electric’s EcoXpert™ Partner Program, whose mission is to connect the technologies and expertise of the world’s leading technology providers, pioneer the future of intelligent buildings and the Internet of Things, and deliver smarter, integrated and more efficient services and solutions to customers.