The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to reshape the IT landscape, building off the advances made by cloud computing technologies to provide a truly “always connected” experience. Beyond egg minders and smart thermostats, IoT stands to transform the way people interact with a wide variety of devices, (hopefully) simplifying and improving their lives. Technology professionals need to familiarize themselves with how IoT is altering the IT landscape in order to future-proof their careers. Here are three important areas:
- Device integration: Consumers and professionals alike are already overwhelmed with digital accounts and passwords, and IoT has the potential to increase that burden. IT experts should take advantage of IoT integration platforms whenever possible to simplify the end user’s experience and make the integration of devices pleasant, not overwhelming. While there’s a strong temptation to forge ahead without regard to how each connected device works together, successful IT professionals will consider the total connected experience, rather than isolated products or services.
- Privacy and security: Poor password hygiene aside, security remains a major concern among all end users today. As IoT matures, IT professionals will need to account for both the vulnerabilities and privacy implications of smart devices. The number of Internet connected devices is expected to explode, reaching 50.1 billion by 2020, according to CompTIA’s white paper, Sizing up the Internet of Things. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are already common and costly, and may become much more so as the number of connected devices per person swells. As the number of IoT use cases grows, so too will the risks. With smart devices managing everything from biometrics to home and business security, professionals must possess the skills to identify and proactively address a diverse set of device weaknesses.
- Analytics expertise: Many companies view IoT as a gold mine for harvesting valuable customer data, and rightly so. Within five years, the IoT industry is predicted to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy. However, data is only as useful as its analysis. IT professionals who are able to identify trends and patterns amid the noise will be in high demand as Big Data becomes even bigger. Familiarity with non-relational database tools like Informix and MongoDB will also give a major edge to job seekers and working professionals alike. At the same time, analytics experts shouldn't shy away from interdisciplinary experience. Understanding what kind of customer data is valuable, and how it can be used to enhance and refine IoT devices, is just as valuable as the ability to identify behavioral patterns and consumer preferences.
Even as the IT industry adapts to the ascendance of the Internet of Things, some of tomorrow’s coveted skills will mirror those of yesterday’s innovations. Security remains a perennial concern, and analytics continues to grow in value and scope, promising to return some of Big Data's benefits back to end users. Other issues, like device fragmentation, will present new risks and opportunities.
The Internet of Things is evolving fast, and IT professionals have to commit to continuous learning in order to help their users confidently face the transition to a more connected world.