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A burgeoning Internet of Things market has created a big demand for engineering talent

Need a strong opening for the cover letter for your Internet of Things (IoT) job application? Try “Have experience, will travel.”

“Yes, there is a push on to hire IoT technical talent,” says Laura DiDio, director of the IoT and Analytics Enterprise Systems Research & Consulting group at Strategy Analytics, a global research and consulting firm. “This is a burgeoning market arena so there will be lots of jobs to go around. There’s going to be opportunities for many different skill sets.” Nearly 30 percent of businesses worldwide have already begun limitedIoT deployments, according to Strategy Analytics’ IoT 2015 Deployment and Usage Trends Survey. DiDio says there is also going to be a big demand for consultants with expertise in IoT integration and interoperability. But DiDio says this represents a huge challenge for anyone contemplating IoT deployment. “They have to get it right the first time,” and that means “senior tech talent.” Veteran IT managers, software developers, and security professionals may have the best shot at the IoT-specific jobs going into 2016.

In fact, experience has become a “minimum requirement” for most currently posted IoT engineering jobs.

“IoT uses many existing technologies in areas such as sensors, power management, processors, wireless communications, security, embedded operating systems, analytics, IoT platforms and more,” says Jim Tully, vice president/distinguished analyst, IoT Research at Gartner, Inc., another market research and consultancy. “This needs people who can interact with the various technology disciplines to facilitate an overall solution. That’s not really a job for new graduates.” However, Tully says the rate at which industry is driving the growth of the IoT should lead to increased job opportunities in all of the individual technology categories. “Many of those are definitely suited to new graduates.”

Gartner also sees a huge opportunity in the IoT sector for cybersecurity specialists. Christian Byrnes, Gartner’s managing vice president, says that by the end of 2017, more than 20 percent of enterprises will have digital risk services devoted to protecting business initiatives using devices and services in the IoT. “The convergence of the Internet of people, computers, and things is transforming most enterprises into digital businesses and reshaping cybersecurity. Requirements for large-scale, real-time adaptive protection, safety and privacy at the digital and physical levels will drive new cybersecurity skills, practices, and technologies.” In addition to a more comprehensive approach to digital risk, Byrnes says organizations must seek out or develop new cybersecurity skill sets in areas such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, embedded software, systems security, and cyberphysical systems.

Gartner also sees startups as a major force in the IoT market. “Startups are very active in IoT,” says Tully. Indeed, Gartner believes that by 2017, about half of all IoT products will be marketed by companies that are less than three years old, suggesting a significant opportunity for innovative new engineering graduates.

In Europe, the most oft mentioned IoT startups include Converge (based in London), VesLab and Iven (both in Turkey), WATTx,  CloudRail, and Tado (Germany), Alleantia (Italy), and Sigfox (France). In China, Sigma Designs and Zeewave are working together to develop IoT-based home automation features for China Unicom broadband service subscribers.

IBM TURNS PRO

IBM, which plans to invest US $3 billion in IoT and hire 2,000 people to staff its IoT business unit, recently posted about 30 IoT-specific job openings, mostly for “professional” software engineers with experience in cloud computing, text analytics, machine learning, and user interface development. Only six of IBM’s IoT job openings were for “entry level” people, and two for student/internships—one in Austria, the other in Canada. General Electric’s job posting in the IoT sector (about 50 at last count) lists similar technical requirements, with almost all of the titles preceded with the words “senior” (senior staff data scientist, senior storage engineer, senior design technologist, senior software quality test engineer), “principal,” or “lead.” Only two junior positions appear on the list—one for an R&D intern in Israel, another for a junior autotest engineer in Hungary.

Similarly, Cisco Systems says its IoT Software Platform Group is “looking for seasoned developers.” Google is recruiting software engineers with experience in tools and infrastructure with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but says it would prefer someone with a master’s or Ph.D in computer science, relevant internship or work experience, and with a “deep knowledge of Internet technologies.” Accenture is looking for 30 engineers and scientists “with deep experience in industry and technology” in IoT sensor telemetry, machine learning, cognitive computing , advanced machine-human visualization, IoT security, and business integration—all to be assigned to the company’s recently opened Internet of Things Centre of Excellence for Resources in Singapore.

The Bosch Research and Technology Center in Pittsburgh, PA is looking for a research engineer with at least a master’s degree (a Ph.D is preferred) in computer science/engineering to work in its IoT program, but also says it expects to increase its hiring of new “associates” (new or recent graduates) in software design and development, some of which will be assigned to its IoT unit.

Microsoft recently listed 166 IoT-specific tech job openings. A recent Verizon posting highlighted 80 IoT tech jobs. The MathWorks needs a bachelor-level degree seeking IoT connectivity intern who can design, code, and debug prototype code for connecting devices like Arduino via the MQTT messaging protocol. ARM is looking for a 2016 graduate in software engineering to focus on its IoT program in its Austin, Texas facility.

A list of job openings for about 100 engineers for Intel’s IoT Group notes a requirement for one embedded systems engineering intern to develop and debug firmware and software. But Intel requires that person to be currently enrolled in a master’s or Ph.D program in electrical engineering, computer engineering, or computer science.


NEW SKILLS NEEDED

Is there a shortage of people with the skills needed to help drive the growth of IoT? And how competitive is the market for technical talent in the sector? 

A study conducted by the software firm, Progress, suggests companies seeking a position in the IoT market may need all the technical talent they can get. The State of IoT 2015 Global Developer Study found that 51 percent of developers and chief information officers surveyed say they are uncertain they have the skills or resources to deliver on the promise of the IoT.

To help meet their anticipated requirements, several industry companies are supporting broad-based university-level IoT-focused programs. ARM has partnered with the University College London to launch a new education kit aimed at developing students’ IoT technical skills. The course is designed to get students interested in starting their own IoT business or join companies such as ARM that are aggressively pursuing the  IoT market. Cisco Systems has committed $150 million to IoT startups in the United Kingdom through its Cisco Networking Academy. Wipro Limited, AirWatch, AT&T, and Samsung have joined Georgia Tech’s Center for the Development and Application of Internet of Things to collaborate on IoT projects. Intellectual property agreements give the center’s corporate partners access to IoT research conducted at Georgia Tech. Similar programs are in development.


About the Author

Ron Schneiderman is the author of "Modern Standardization — Case Studies at the Crossroads of Technology, Economics, and Politics", published by John Wiley & Sons.

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