Despite its gargantuan market size, a global skills shortage is the number one threat to the Internet of Things – so now is the time to school up. Red Wire takes a look at the technical and international smarts you need to tap into this burgeoning industry with the help of Vodafone IoT expert Sam Thiele.
For Sam, the rapid growth of the area means “it’s hard to pinpoint (one) single valuable skill” to learn. “However, having a strong aptitude for continual learning and being able to adjust to regular change are must haves.” These following skills are good jump-off points to get your foot in the escalator as it rapidly escalates upwards.
‘Design’ means different things to different industries. In IoT, it ranges from aesthetics to circuitry to systems. Connected devices require skillsets that can make things beautiful, adjust and adapt chips, and account for new system requirements.
— Amazon Echo (@amazonecho) December 19, 2016
Skills needed: Specialist IoT skillsets include printed circuit board (PCB) and 3D design, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design, and a proficiency in drafting software AutoCAD.
As the IoT arena grows, more objects than ever will be able to obtain and process data. Companies will need to collect, analyse, filter, and protect more data than ever before to keep their devices smart and secure.
Skills: There is already, and will continue to be, a huge need for data scientists and back-end engineers who have skills in data management, analysis and programming in IoT. Within that, specialised professionals experienced with programming frameworks such as Hadoop, database mechanisms such as NoSQL, and data-processing engines such as Apache Spark will be in demand.
From apps, to web, to robots; programming knowledge will be one of the most essential skills of the 21st century – and teaching your kids to code could be the best thing you do for them. IoT requires more specialised programming languages to help objects do their thing. There are a bunch of tongues out there, but a select few are emerging as key to the IoT world.
Skills: Microcontrollers add intelligence to devices and help with processing tasks, which makes Ardurino—a programming language commonly used in building sensor and automation projects—a vital tongue. Other IoT-centric languages include general-purpose C, object-oriented C++, and Java. Python could be valuable within IoT, too. Brillo OS and Weave used by Google and Nest, or Swift, used by Apple, are also tipped to rise in use.
Where to learn: Sydney’s University of Technology has a range of useful degrees under its software development and programming stream. Private colleges like General Assembly teach a range of programming languages, not to mention complimentary skills like user experience and visual design. And if you’re not able to go full time, why not try an online source! Online course mecca Lynda (recently acquired by LinkedIn) has a host of programming courses, with a slew of resources dedicated specifically to IoT.
Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) work in tandem – they’re different, but you can’t have one without the other. The former refers to devices that have the ability to learn, grow and change without being explicitly programmed. When enough data is received and analysed, these devices can start to make decisions and carry out tasks—enter AI.
Currently, IoT devices mix user input and code to function. In the future, this may change thanks to AI, where we automate as many processes as possible so devices can respond to human interactions without the need for new code. Think of it as ‘living machines’.
— Intel IoT (@Inteliot) November 29, 2016
Skills: Data scientists who specialise in either machine learning or artificial intelligence. I.e. People who can build adaptive algorithms with data analytics capabilities.
Where to learn: RMIT has an artificial intelligence component as part of its Bachelor of Computer Science. The Australian National University, the University of Queensland , and Sydney University all offer AI as part of degrees.
This one’s a no-brainer in any connected environment. As Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled devices get more complex, so will the potential ways to exploit them. Weird but possible: Someone hacks your smart toaster and can access your whole network.
Where to learn: Most major Australian Universities offer a postgraduate course in cyber security, but Macquarie University is the only one that runs one at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Data, coding, machines, and software are inevitable aspects of IoT infrastructure, but there is plenty of room for those whose skills sit outside this space. Good communicators with knowledge of the tech world will play an increasingly vital role when it comes to relaying complicated concepts and ideas to the rest of us. In addition, Sam says “Focus on… understanding multiple business challenges from different organisations, and (be) able to apply and/or adapt relevant solutions from alternate industries to help… customers achieve their desired outcomes.”
Skills: Big companies run on good internal comms, and need marketing and public relations specialists to get word out about new products and concepts.
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