It is intriguing to note that we took 11,000 years to experience the first Industrial Revolution in human history. This changed the landscape of life as we knew it. We saw rapid urbanization, improved productivity, the rise of the middle class and more.
And the next big revolution that arrived after 150 years with the emergence of the Internet was the Internet Revolution. This brought about changes which were not only technological but also societal. It recomposed existing definitions with access to information globally. Look at you, reading this blog on the internet!
Now, the next big revolution disrupting our lifestyles with emerging technologies (artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, web 3.0, virtual reality etc) in less than 20 years amongst others is the Internet of Things (IoT). It is the true extension of the internet into the physical world.
According to research, the Indian IoT market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.1%. It is expected to reach USD 1 Trillion in the next 5-7 years.
We may not realize it but IoT applications are now a strong part of our everyday lives. But how does an IoT application work? Simply, the technology connects all devices under a network and can send alerts from one device to another. It is as if all devices have a voice to communicate with one another.
“The Internet of Things connects devices creating an immense amount of data. Big Data makes sense of all the data. Machine learning utilises the data to learn and make better decisions.”
Imagine, getting a notification on your phone saying your washing machine has a problem. Or, getting an alert from your water purifier that it needs servicing. Or imagine your fridge informing you of the items to be restocked. Insane, right?
Picture this, you can switch on your geyser or cool your room by sending a signal to the AC; while you are still 20 mins away from home! Also, one can enable smart IoT security for homes with special IoT-based cameras and much more.
All of this is possible when IoT is married to 5G! There are abundant possibilities with IoT data sharing, it will be simple, quick and easy to streamline these alerts and actions.
Now, technically, IoT joins sensors, devices, data and connectivity together to make the Internet a mix of Things. This mix can interact, exchange and even act with intelligence. Although it is still evolving, it is promising and its many applications are being explored across industries.
IoT can be applied to your household devices like fridges, geysers, air conditioners, microwaves etc. creating smart homes and smart physical objects. They will be connected to each other via the internet and share data amongst themselves.
On the other hand, in industrial applications, it is being used in security systems and machines. The motive is to reduce cost and increase efficiency. For example with better production visibility and connected tools, organizations can automatically track parts as they move through assemblies using IoT sensors such as RFID and brake beams.
Furthermore, it can improve the productivity of the manufacturing workforce with improved workflows and production cycles, quality outputs with continuous monitoring, supply chain optimisation and better machine utilization. In fact, a recent McKinsey article reported that sensor data can be used to predict equipment failure in a manufacturing environment. This can reduce maintenance costs by as much as 40% and cut unplanned downtime in half.
Companies across sectors such as auto, telecom, retail and healthcare are increasingly adopting IoT. The benefits of IoT systems allow for devices to be connected at low cost in real-time with seamless communication between people, processes and things. Once connected to the IoT network, every device becomes uniquely identifiable. It can interact with millions of other gadgets that are part of the same system. It is estimated that IoT will comprise 22 billion devices by 2025.
As the IoT enables and pushes automation to new heights, people will do fewer and fewer ‘simple tasks’. But would it imply that the demand for highly technical employees will increase and the need for less-technical employees decrease? What will be the short-term and long-term effects on the overall job market? Let’s decode and take a closer look at how IoT will impact the jobs and skills of the future.
The Obvious IoT Job Roles
Perhaps, it is the IT Sector job market that can expect the most influence in the next 5-10 years. To connect all devices around the world to the Internet would require seasoned IT professionals with data scraping skills.
Circuit designers, microcontroller programmers, hardware designers, statisticians, app developers, network security developers and electrical installation engineers, as companies strive to implement IoT strategies.
IoT will help in the creation of new job roles like data scientists and analysts, product managers, software developers and solution architects. Furthermore, robot coordinators; industrial programmers; design, network and machine learning engineers and other profiles would be required.
Roles in algorithm development for improved machine learning will be crucial. People with these skills won’t have trouble finding work in the IoT age.
The Not So Obvious IoT Job Roles
With IoT, the requirement of manpower to operate devices manually gets reduced. It impacts people in jobs such as office administration, supervisory roles, installation and maintenance and support staff etc. Despite considerable pessimism about the loss of jobs to automation, in reality, where jobs are lost, other jobs are created. And by economic law, jobs with low value-add disappear and are replaced with jobs with high value-add.
Available new non-routine job positions would increase in the economy due to the implementation of IoT technology. In India, IoT is expected to create as many as 25,000 such new jobs, adds the report by a leading consulting firm. We may observe a 4x growth in support services as IoT technology becomes widespread.
The Spinning Wheel – Automation for Job Creation
As automation increases and replaces manual labour, overall employment is negatively affected as some workers must find new avenues of employment.
The “capitalization effect” positively impacts the job market as more companies enter industries where productivity is high — such as the spinning wheel example — which then leads to increased overall employment opportunities. This will especially boost the startup ecosystem in the IoT and allied sectors creating more jobs.
The data gained in IoT applications on saving energy in a million smart homes could shed new light on how to create better technology that saves energy worldwide. (And creating that technology will certainly create new job opportunities along the way.)
On the flipside, the data generated with connected devices will also need data centers and data storage which consume high energy.. Thus paving the way for renewable energy companies to uptake their growth with the creation of abundant green jobs in the country.
IoT “smart farming” connected technologies — such as satellite/drone imagery, sensors, GPS mapping, wearable technology, algorithms and robotics — could combine to make the uncertainty of the worldwide food supply a thing of the past.
IoT collaborations are already underway that aim to do no less than save the world’s water. IBM and an Ireland university’s new sensor technologies could potentially improve key water-quality monitoring aspects. Also, it will significantly reduce costs compared to current commercial technologies.
The IoT may save untold numbers of lives via wearables that issue real-time alerts for health emergencies. Or sensors embedded in the body that administers medicine at precise times or even as needed based on collected data. Or what about drones that dispatch healthcare to war-torn or remote areas?
Many brands have already started turning to IoT in retail which is expected to grow to $94.44 billion through 2025. In retail stores, inventory and warehouse management, IoT will bring efficiency and intelligence. Footfall count and CCTV surveillance will be upgraded by IoT and AI wherein human intervention is on a need-basis only.
Additionally, personalised location-based micro-targeting is set to be the norm for retail stores of the future. Invoicing queues will have wait timer notifications and the need for visual merchandising is set to increase.
With a drastic industry revolution with IoT, the job scenario will evolve. Newer technologies demand newer skills and organizations are still navigating. They don’t have the know-how or in-house talent to realize their new IoT strategies.
Organizations in every sector are looking to fill positions that require IoT skills, especially in chip manufacturing, supply chain, cybersecurity etc. In short, it’s a massive opportunity for all levels of skill and expertise will be open.
Upskilling will be an individual and a company’s safest play as the gears of reality evolve. There is a clear need for training new and existing employees. The future of the workforce in the next 5-10 years would require certifications in this field.
All in all, it is encouraging that our government is taking steps to incorporate IoT into many industries. The Digital India mission promotes various government projects such as smart cities, smart grids, etc. This is expected to boost the use of IoT technology over the next 5 years. The space is exciting, and more advancements are yet to be discovered.
At TeamLease as well, skilling and training initiatives have time and again proved their worth. It has improved retention rates with certified courses and university associations. With the emergence of IoT, we are suited to upskill and upgrade the workforce for the future.
The clock is ticking and the time to act is now. Godspeed!
The article has been written by Mayur Taday, Chief Business Officer – Services TeamLease Services Limited