How can IoT help bridge the tech talent gap?

How can IoT help bridge the tech talent gap?

Ellie Martin, Co-Founder of Startup Change Group, blogs about the widening tech talent gap and the ways IoT technology could help close it. 

The Internet of Things is a very popular buzz term in technological circles these days, and for good reason. The IoT holds a tremendous amount of potential for the future.

Part of the IoT’s mass appeal right now is its far-reaching definition. Indeed, the “Internet of Things” is a famously broad term, meaning different things to different people. Some people hear the term and think of smart traffic intersections, with cars and traffic lights all communicating with each other to make for a safer and more seamless driving experience. Others hear the term and might think about a smart home in which every device ranging from the thermostat to the refrigerator is connected and constantly communicating in order to make a more efficient and more comfortable living experience. Still others might think about manufacturing and developing smart, connected robotic machinery that makes the supply chain more efficient.

In truth, because seemingly everything is becoming connected to WiFi these days, there’s really no end to the potential of the Internet of Things. This is why so many people are fawning over the concept and investing heavily in it. IoT technology is still broad and nascent enough that people are constantly finding new ways to implement it, creating a sort of wild frontier of experimentation, innovation, and speculation. It all adds up to one potentially worrying reality: we might not be ready just yet for the massive scale of the Internet of Things.

Currently there’s a well-documented talent gap in the technology world, specifically among less glamorous industries such as supply chain technology. While the tech sector continues to grow and see its job opportunities proliferate, the reality is that many companies in this sector who aren’t named Google, Facebook, or Amazon struggle to fill their job openings with candidates who are true specialists in technological skills emerging from IoT.

Whether it’s because of a continuing lack of students studying in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields or simply because too many companies are competing over too few candidates in the domestic job market, the talent gap in the tech world has many wringing their hands over whether they can fill gaps in their ranks. This concern becomes especially real when there’s already a shortage of STEM experts in a world where new technologies and sectors are sprouting up faster than we can educate people on the technologies that already exist.

While it’s right to worry about the talent gap in many tech sectors, the technologies of the future, specifically the Internet of Things, might actually be able to help us solve that crisis rather than exacerbate it. Indeed, IoT could actually be a key player in bridging the talent gap currently prevalent in the tech world. One reason: automation. Specifically, supply chain and manufacturing industries, who are no strangers to automation, should be embracing IoT.

For those who think IoT will be replacing human workers with robots, consider one idea posed by Zachary Smith at ThomasNet. Since manufacturing and other supply chain sectors currently find themselves woefully lacking in skilled workers, perhaps we should embrace the automation-oriented machine technology of the Internet of Things. As Smith puts it, letting robots streamline our business will at least keep the lights on while we continue to search for new skilled talent and develop our operations to account for the possibilities of future technologies. In short, let our robots connected by IoT do the grunt work more efficiently while we focus more on R&D, something robots alone can’t do.

The Internet of Things also presents the possibility of bridging the talent gap by promoting collaboration among companies. A study from research firm Spencer Stuart hones in on this idea: the growth of the Internet of Things will lead to “cross-pollination” and collaboration between companies who had otherwise never worked before. This collaboration between companies and industries will also result in the sharing of resources. Say, for example, a major IT enterprise with access to top engineers and developers is working with a manufacturer to roll out a new product. If the manufacturer doesn’t have the engineers on staff to help build and scale that product, then it may be up to the IT enterprise to co-engineer a smarter, more connected means of manufacturing. Resulting then in the engineer working with the manufacturer to design a smart machine that can scale the product and communicate with the IT enterprise for a continued streamlined production. The Internet of Things thus collapses the divide and takes away some of the demand for talent by encouraging the sharing of resources.

The Internet of Things is still being speculated upon in terms of its reach, potential, and applications, presents a very real opportunity to streamline the relationships between tech companies and provide a more fluid, efficient market that could be good news for the tech talent gap.

You can follow, Ellie Martin, co-founder of Startup Change group, on Twitter @EllieMartin120.  Martin currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel. Don’t forget to follow IoTUK too @IoTUKNews.

Ellie Martin
christiana.courtright89@digicatapult.org.uk
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