The Internet of Things (IoT) is disrupting every sector. Enterprises of all sizes and industries are getting ready to seize the massive growth opportunity with yet another wave for digital transformation with IoT at its heart. IoT growth is expected to cross $200 Bn by 2020, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. McKinsey anticipates an increase of about three billion new consumer connected devices per year. To transform the unconnected product to connected product and service, there is a huge requirement of skilled professionals working towards innovation in product design and development, deployment and implementation, execution and program management.
Skill gaps and the opportunities ahead
India currently has the second largest workforce in the world and is expected to leave China behind by 2020. It is also estimated that 64 percent of India’s population will have its place in the working age group by 2020. This implies that the demand for jobs will consequently increase than it is at present, posing a major challenge for an already volatile job market.
Industry 4.0 is a big buzz-word in business and industry circles. It is expected to change the world in ways that cannot be realized yet. Industry 4.0 technologies are disrupting many industries and are changing patterns of employment along with creating new jobs. However, the skills required for industry 4.0 are very different from the existing skillsets academia is building in future workforce. Hence, there is a huge lacuna of skilled IT workers in the industry today. Not only is there a need to change the syllabus in engineering colleges but also established professionals need to now invest in upskilling themselves to meet the requirements of the industry 4.0.
IoT is a multi-disciplinary domain which requires the professionals to not only master the main aspect of their genre but also learn associated faculties in engineering, design, and development and think out of the box for developing innovative solutions using technology. For example, an engineer coming from an electronics background not only needs to excel in electronics but should also have basic computer science and programming proficiency. IoT is a specialized skill and currently, there are not many industry professionals who understand it completely. Even on the application side of IoT, one not only needs to understand the technology but also requires an understanding of the industry domain where it is going to get applied and the data relevance in order to map the processes efficiently.
There are two aspects of becoming a skilled professional in the field of IoT. First, a person needs to envision the big picture and build a multi-disciplinary approach to understand how the data is being collected from the devices to how it is shown in the application. The second aspect is building knowledge on where and when the technology is going to get applied. This requires complete understanding of the business vertical it will be applied on. Vertical understanding will allow mapping the areas IoT can play a transformative role in bringing huge efficiencies, cost savings and enhanced customer experience for business. Hence, both the domain level skills and the qualification need to be built in tandem.
Skill development: The need of the hour
Companies are deploying considerable investments in emerging technologies to match customer expectations and stay competitive in the market. To support the deployment of these emerging technologies, skill development and enhancement is imperative amidst the current digital disruption scenario. In the interim budget, the Finance Minister has spoken about the establishment of a new Centre of Excellence (CoE) in the field of technology. This initiative of the Government of India will open the path for the youth in India to leverage the new state-of-the-art development infrastructure and upskill themselves to widen the job opportunity pool for themselves.
Many universities have already taken progressive steps towards collaboration with industry leaders and open technology CoE’s within their campus. The best place to start for any student is by joining such centers and actively work on research and proof of concept projects on a smaller scale first. For example, Aeris has taken an initiative towards training budding engineers and entrepreneurs on IoT by signing an MoU with IIT-BHU for establishing a CoE in the campus. The collaboration between Aeris and IIT BHU has enabled the creation of indigenous and innovative IoT solutions by the young minds who can create projects of their own and utilize the power of Aeris in IoT platform to create relevant IoT based solutions, solving practical problems. Students are provided training and with the right support and experience of experts, they develop relevant skills, earning a competitive edge in the job market. And the best part is that they develop skills on the latest technologies while they are still studying. One would not have to devote alternate years to learn emerging technologies. For freshers, there are multiple courses offered by IET and NASSCOM. For professionals, there are training offered by multiple organizations for product management and programme management.
Many people feel the looming threat of job loss with new technologies emerging. While the threat does exist for those who are not open to change with times, we must also understand that technology has always played an enabling role in the creation of more jobs rather taking them away. Let’s go a couple of decades back in time when computers were introduced in India. It was a hype and a scary one with everyone talking about how it is going to leave Indians unemployed, enslaved to the smart box! However, history has another story to tell and a positive one! Not only did the advent of computers led to the booming knowledge economy, resulting in increasing jobs in the Indian market but Bengaluru City was put on the world map the City of IT Technology. So, the key takeaway is to keep an open mind, change with times, keep learning, skilling and re-skilling because that is the only key to opening new opportunities and growth for the self and for the nation.