The Opportunities of the Industrial Internet of Things
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is bringing more insight to industrial processes than ever before. As the digital transformation of industrial machines—and the systems in place around them — continues to gather steam, career opportunities for those with the right skills and outlook are waiting.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is big business. In a 2018 brief, Bain & Company estimated that the IIoT market could grow to $200 billion by 2021. With IIoT companies like GE, which has identified IIoT as a way towards vast improvements in efficiency throughout their other lines of business, and Airbus, with its standard-setting open platform project, the IIoT has captured the minds of industry big hitters as a way to improve efficiency, enhance productivity, and transform industry.
What is the Industrial Internet of Things?
You may know of technologies associated with the Internet of Things (IoT) from a consumer perspective. Things like smart home devices that can control your home’s temperature, lighting and security, and wearable technology like smartwatches and activity trackers are popular devices that use the internet to communicate and act on the data collected.
The IIoT combines information from sensors and actuators that are connected to the internet with the massive power of big data analytics and machine learning to provide actionable insights on industrial processes for decision-makers. Whether it’s predictive maintenance scheduling, process improvements or resource management, the IIoT is transforming industrial processes through better data and insights to help optimize productivity and improve efficiency.
The digital transformation brought about by the IIoT has a wide industrial reach. International Data Corporation’s 2019 prediction of spending indicates that discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, transportation and utilities will be the big spenders on this technology. And as predictions for the total economic impact of the internet of things reach as much as $11.1 trillion a year by 2025, it’s clear that there are huge opportunities for job seekers in the IIoT sphere.
How employees can take advantage of IIoT
Are you interested in the application of big data and machine learning to manufacturing and other industrial uses? Are you a cross-disciplinarian who’s comfortable with disruption? Familiar with or ready to learn agile methods? Ready to introduce IIoT to people and plants that may not have heard about it yet? If you answered yes to these questions, IIoT may be your next career move!
In bringing the internet to the manufacturing sector, the IIoT is introducing IT-related skill requirements to many jobs in the sector–even those that didn’t previously have an IT component. As job profiles shift — for example, as maintenance workers shift from troubleshooting functions to supporting predictive maintenance — remaining flexible and willing to retrain will help smooth your transition to work in the new smart factories.
If you’re looking to target new avenues, look at companies that are investing in IIoT. Not only can this help you find potential employers, but it gives you a good sense of what the job market and industry itself look like. Start with this list of 31 companies using the IIoT.
IIoT job opportunities
As use of the IIoT grows across the country, here are the big employment opportunities.
1. Data Science
Data is at the heart of the IIoT revolution. But the real value of the massive amounts of data generated by smart factories is in being able to capture and analyze it to provide actionable insights for the organization. That’s where data scientists come in. Dubbed “the sexiest job of the 21st century” by Harvard Business Review, data scientists wade through the ocean of data to find meaning in it. Familiar with both the industrial processes creating the data and the software systems capturing it and putting it to use, data scientists are also adept at programming, predictive analytics, statistics and probability.
As massive amounts of data accumulate and are put to work in operational contexts, protecting the systems from ever-increasing cyberattacks is a fundamental concern. And a difficult one, especially with as much as 75% of IT security functions being viewed as understaffed, according to a 2018 report from Poneman Institute and DomainTools. To succeed, cybersecurity professionals should be well-versed in cybersecurity technologies related to industrial control systems and operational technology, risk analysis, and attack defense.
3. Engineering & Operations
Building and maintaining infrastructure that takes advantage of the IIoT requires many individuals with interdisciplinary skills to bridge hardware, software, data integration, system interoperability and user design requirements. This includes:
Electrical and networking experts maintain the security of data transmission pathways between the Information Technology and Operational Technology teams to ensure continued flow of (good) information.
IT Solution Architects are required to provide overall system design that ensures interoperability of connected machines and systems and that it meets business needs.
Maintenance & Operations
When machinery is able to tell you when it requires service, maintenance becomes less about troubleshooting issues that have already happened and more about preventative maintenance scheduling. Maintenance Managers will increasingly be called on to provide analysis and preventative maintenance while expanding to provide strategic guidance for their factories.
Is IIoT worth it?
With companies continuing to invest in IIoT technologies, and the huge opportunities for growth, the IIoT is definitely an avenue to explore for curious tech-savvy individuals who want to ride the wave of the future.