New Skills in the Time of IoT

Published by:
Dipankar Ghosh
11th July 2017

The unfortunate sacking of an employee in a well-known IT services company went viral in the social media last week and brought to the forefront some serious issues with regard to employment conditions, ethics and, more importantly, how one treats people.

However, a deeper issue from the point of view of the IT employees and the thousands of students joining the workforce every year, is the issue of possessing the critical and relevant skills that will be absolutely necessary in the digital age. 

I do not mention ‘digital age’ in the context of something we are foreseeing to be happening sooner or later in the future. I mention it in the context of something that is HERE and NOW!!

It is clear that the ‘successful’ companies are not ready to take advantage of the digital age and they are going to face increasing difficulties because of this. They are definitely not equipped to re-train in large numbers the employees that they have. Firings are therefore an inevitable corollary. 

I am also not sure about the proportion of employees that are capable to getting trained in new skills. And the ability of the educational institutions to support students to learn these skills is doubtful. Much has already been said about the quality of the institutions and their outcomes for so many years.

So where does this leave the students and the employees? My suggestion: take responsibility of your life yourself; do not expect your employers or your colleges to help you. 

And there are plenty of opportunities opening up in the areas of Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality, Cognitive Computing, AI, Robotics – all a part of the digital economy that we are talking about.

Take IoT for instance: it requires a variety of skills. Get yourself trained in any of these that suit your liking and strengths.

Let me give you some pointers: IoT requires sensor technologists to identify the right sensors for the required solution. Or even design new sensors for new and existing applications. It requires experts in microcontrollers and microcomputers design and embedded software specialists that write code that gets installed in these. 

It requires communications engineers who can ensure that sensor data travels efficiently to data servers. It requires statisticians who are good at running experiments and coming up with data models for doing run-time analytics. It requires Big Data and Business Intelligence experts who help handle large amount of data and make meaning out of it. 

It requires UX/UI developers to develop front end solutions for information visualizations. It requires IoT platform software developers who can write programs on these platforms. It also requires experts in cloud server management. It surely, surely needs cybersecurity specialists who are experts in IoT security infrastructure. 

I am sure some of the readers will be able to come up with several other required skill sets. The point I am trying to make is that most of these expertise lie in the allied domains of experienced employees. All they need to do is to take some courses; but more importantly get some hands-on experience in their chosen field. The last is a MUST. Without getting one’s hands dirty, one will not gain the requisite experience to be considered an expert. 

There are many small companies and start-ups who one can get in touch with and who will be happy to accommodate someone with the zeal to learn and in return help the company in some way. For the students, I have the same suggestion – go out there and get your hands on to real work.

And be prepared to follow the dictum – ‘learn before you earn’! 

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