Ready or not, the Internet of Things is poised to take over the world. On April 25, 2017, Cisco Learning's product manager, Daniel Chan, shared some eye-popping revelations about the Internet of Things, and the career opportunities it poses. First, Gartner forecast that "IoT will add $12 trillion of economic value cumulatively between 2013 and 2022" (emphasis mine). This will include $751 billlion spent on IoT applications, services, networks and devices by 2020 (by comparison $80 billion on IoT spending occurred in 2014 alone). Those are some big numbers, and certainly indicate the size and scope of the opportunity that IoT presents.
Next, Chan tackles market penetration and adoption for IoT. He sees "mass-market IoT adoption" arriving in "about 5 years" – in the 2022 time frame on the outside edge of Gartner's earlier projections. He goes on to observe that about one-quarter of "all vertical industries are aleady engaged in initial IoT deployment," citing Forrester Research as his source.
He specifically mentions that "IoT enables enterprise digital transformation" calling out to industrial segments that include manufacturing, connected vehicles, mass transit, utilities, energy and mining, with manufacturing at the head of the class in terms of "economic added value and new job opportunities." Could this be the leading edge of Mr. Trump's clarion call to restore manufacturing jobs? Perhaps.
Chan gets to the nitty gritty, however, in his discussion of the benefits of acquiring IoT skills. He observes that "each technological revolution replaces older job roles with new ones that require new skills" to set the stage for "making big professional gains … with IoT skills." He also asserts that "organizations in every sector are competing to bring IOT experts on board" with "IoT skills for positions in manufacturing and cybersecurity" in highest demand. All of this, of course, leads to the nub of his presentation and the point of his pitch:
- Gartner forecasts that more than 1 million jobs will be needed "to deliver applications and business services for IoT" (1.4M jobs, actually, of which 300K jobs are entry-level, IoT-related jobs. In short, it's a huge opportunity at all levels of skill and expertise, and for all kinds of interesting parties.
- Cisco offers training and certification for professionals in both IT (information technology) and OT (operational technology). Chan observes that "the closed plant floor will become Internet-enabled," that "the probability for job obsolescence is high" where "for many professionals it will be sink or swim." I don't think he's wrong about where the future is going, nor is he out of line to recommend Cisco's Managing Industrial Networks with Cisco Networking Technologies (IMINS) training that leads to a Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist certification. For those interested in the CCNA Industrial certification, there's a more advanced IMINS2 course.
For those willing to hoe this particular row of the IT/IoT patch, Chan observes further that the rewards are potentially generous. He cites Glassdoor.com salary information that puts annual pay for "engineers and senior engineers with IoT skills" between $97 and $155K at "one IoT-focused organization." Of course, that says little or nothing about what those who start climbing the cert ladder at the specialist and CCNA levels can expect to earn, but it's hard to miss his primary point – namely, that there's an economic opportunity here, and it's not a negligible one.
What IT and OT professionals need to consider is the time, effort and expense involved in climbing aboard the IoT wagon. For many, the prospects of redundancy and unemployment will only provide an added incentive to invest in the future today. I think IoT is and interesting and potentially valuable direction in which to steer one's career. But, like anything else in life, it's a choice that comes with no guarantees. "You pays your money, and you takes your chances" is how the old saying goes. Indeed IoT offers lots of good chances, but it remains a bet. And with all bets, there are always losers and winners. Plan accordingly.