Imagine a network of Internet-connected devices of all types that is constantly collecting data. This network would include cameras, packages, lighting fixtures, air conditioners and heaters, security systems, even refrigerators and coffee makers. Those devices would share data with one another and feed information back to a major database. After that, all of that data would be analyzed and interpreted, and data scientists will discover outstanding correlations and causations from seemingly simple, yet massively abundant collections of information.
"The IoT will comprise 6.4 billion "things" by the end of 2016."
Well, you don't have to imagine it anymore. It's called the Internet of Things, and according to Gartner, that network will comprise 6.4 billion "things" by the end of 2016, as businesses and consumers introduce 5.5 million more of those devices to networks every day. By 2020, the research firm expects 20.8 billion "things" to exist, both in your homes and in your offices.
The explosion of the IoT is unprecedented, and as such, it is set to shake up the corporate and consumer worlds more so than the cloud has in recent years. Every type of enterprise – from retail organizations to industrial powerhouses – will take advantage of the IoT in some shape or form. Shipping companies will track packages across the globe, while the typical workplace will simply use these technologies to secure its premises and collect other mundane information.
However, with the IoT set to take off next year, enterprises must get ready. In a conversation with Fast Company, John Hack, vice president of user experience and design at SAP, questioned the ability to manage the IoT given the current outlook.
"How do you command, control, and deliver all this effectively?" Hack asked himself, according to the source. "There will be new jobs, new tasks, and new skills required in order to achieve the next levels of economic activity in an IoT world."
More importantly, what skills are necessary? And, what types of roles must be filled? Let's take a look at the answers.
Once your organization embarks on an IoT strategy and tries to support employees or customers with IoT technologies and tools, it will need to start developing applications that connect data streams and devices to existing software and systems. These components are absolutely critical for adopting any corporate-wide IoT systems, but there are a few different layers to this puzzle, which means one type of role can't do everything.
According to Evans Data Corporation, 20.6 percent of IoT software developers are creating firmware for consumer or corporate devices. The main focus will be creating software that supports "sensors," with 42 percent of those individuals citing this as their current job. Alternatively, 20 percent of surveyed developers are working on middleware, while 17.2 percent are developing server-side applications.
While the behind-the-scenes work is necessary, you shouldn't forget about the end-user aspect of the IoT. After all, employees and consumers need to interact with these technologies regularly in all cases – whether it's shutting off your toaster from your television remote or presenting collected data to investors. The IoT must fit with everyday stuff.
Writing for Talkin' Cloud, Todd Thibodeaux, CEO of CompTIA, explained that enterprises should focus on making the IoT user-friendly and supported by external platforms and devices. For example, employees should be able to access data being collected in real time through a SAP module that's installed on a employee-owned laptop. Thibodeaux stressed the importance of creating a "total connected experience" instead of just a fancy IoT network that lives in a silo.
However, with Evans Data Corporation finding that 26.8 percent of IoT software developers are complaining of a lack of good software development kits and included application programmer interfaces, you'll need IT professionals who understand the big picture.
"6.4 billion IoT devices means 6.4 billion attack vectors."
If Gartner's predictions are correct and there are 6.4 billion IoT devices by the end of 2016, that means there will be 6.4 billion attack vectors. It's as simple as that, and as such, you must start thinking about how your corporate network will be protected. The security protocols and practices are up to you, but only using firewalls won't cut it. In other words, you will need many different cybersecurity roles filled by the time 2017 arrives, as these individuals can ensure data is safe while in storage as well as while being sent across these networks.
With the IoT comes huge collections of data. If your company isn't already investing in big data and analytics, 2016 is the time to find some IT professionals with skills in that area. Evans Data Corporation found that 34 percent of IoT software developers are creating real-time analytics and processing systems, so someone with the talents to improve performance in that regard will be critical.
Specifically, the source discovered that in-memory databases are popular with IoT strategies. These skills are in high demand, though. It would be a best bet to start looking for professionals with in-memory database experience sooner rather than later.