Welcome to the future! A future where machines will predict a user’s needs even before they voice it. Think this is a snippet from an upcoming sci-fi movie? Not really. With the world moving towards becoming smarter and more connected than ever before, this will be a reality soon enough. It is estimated that in the next 5 years, the number of connected devices worldwide will hit 50+ billion. The technology behind these connected devices is the ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT), which is set to see a whopping investment of $500 Bn by 2023. A consequence of this astronomical number is the search for skilled IoT talent by enterprises and start-ups alike. Is there enough skilled IoT talent that will bridge the existing gap while also planning for the future?
We, at Zinnov, define Internet of Things as a system of interconnected devices that enables collection, exchange, analysis, and prediction of information to help enterprises with intelligence for decision-making, to deliver better consumer experience and gain visibility and control over operations to enhance efficiency.
Some of the key use cases across verticals are highlighted below:
According to a recent Zinnov study, the total IoT Technology & Services spend is to touch USD $500 Bn by 2023, at a CAGR of 21%. Given this massive number, it makes it all the more important for organizations and start-ups alike to scale their IoT projects and initiatives, and drive them to success. However, there still exist many challenges that hamper the scale of IoT initiatives.
Zeo was a USD $28 Mn funded start-up that shut down operations in 2014. Zeo developed a smart alarm clock with an in-built sleep monitor. The product included a headband which recorded electrical activity along the scalp, which then recorded the user’s brain waves. Though the product was launched in 2003, it failed to scale and compete against the digital giants such as Fitbit. With the changing times, the product needed to pivot and become a smart wearable, instead of its seemingly dated design and usage. The company’s failure to pivot at the right time and push the boundaries to create a product that is not just scalable but has the right business model, resulted in its closure.
A major hindrance to widespread adoption of IoT technology is the security issues and vulnerabilities. IoT security has come under intense scrutiny, following several high-profile security breaches that left many users and their data vulnerable. In many of these security-related incidents, a common IoT device was hacked into to infiltrate and attack the larger network. This makes it paramount for organizations to prioritize security for all connected devices.
A few examples where security vulnerabilities hampered the scale of IoT –
“The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.” – Meister Eckhart
Our research, leveraging the DRAUP platform, shows that the global IoT talent demand is over 1 million professionals, while the current employed IoT talent is less than one-fifth of that number, at ~120,000. Given these numbers, it’s no wonder that talent deficit is one of the major factors hampering the scale of IoT projects and initiatives around the world. Our research further revealed that there are ~40,000 IoT job openings worldwide, with each role averaging about 3 months to close. Some of the top verticals struggling to find skilled IoT talent include Automotive, Semiconductor, Industrial Engineering, and Telecom.
This analysis helped us build DRAUP Talent Optimization Framework to build a cohesive IoT talent strategy. The framework consists of 5 distinct elements:
1. Upskill: Enterprises can significantly upgrade core IoT talent from external learning sources such as online learning resources and peer company platforms, and structured internal training initiatives.
2. Off-the-shelf Platforms: There is a multitude of off-the-shelf solutions available, that are mostly built on open source frameworks. Some of these platforms include Microsoft Azure, GE Predix, IBM Watson, Siemens, Cisco, etc. These offer more flexibility and effectiveness to development teams in end-to-end completion of IoT projects of varying complexities.
3. Hire/Acqui-hire: Hiring new IoT talent is a challenge unto itself, for each of the 10 skills mentioned in the visual above are concentrated in specific verticals. For example, Automotive and Semiconductor industries have a high number of embedded/hardware skills, while there is high availability of the new age skills in the ISV/Hitech verticals.
On the other hand, new age skills such as Design and Data Science need to be leveraged through ecosystem connects, including acqui-hiring start-ups, setting up niche digital COEs, partnerships with universities, conducting hackathons, and engaging through accelerators.
4. Globalize: One way to tap into the available IoT talent pool is through globalization. The numbers speak for themselves – there is a total of about 120,000 employable global IoT talent. Of this, 30% are working in Semiconductor and Software/Internet verticals. However, the available talent is unevenly distributed, with US and India housing nearly 40% of the total employable IoT talent pool in the Software/Internet, Semiconductor, and Indian IT Service Providers. Some of the other key locations where this niche IoT talent is housed include Seattle Area, Bay Area, Boston, Mexico, Brazil, UK, Germany, France, China, and India.
5. Partner/Outsource: Outsourcing and/or partnering with Service Providers with the right maturity along service lines such as IoT application development, platform engineering, system integration, and analytics/data science, also helps bridge internal IoT talent deficit for enterprises.
We, at Zinnov, track and rate about 300 Service Providers with IoT capabilities through its proprietary IoT Zinnov Zones rating. This annual rating has, over the past decade, has become an acknowledged standard across the technology space. There are approximately 5000 outsourcing leaders who actively employ Zinnov Zones for IoT outsourcing-related decision-making. Plus, enterprise leaders from around 400 companies consume the rating annually, to make enterprise-level decisions in the Service Provider landscape. This framework can be leveraged to prioritize capabilities to be developed in-house vs augment using external support ecosystem.
With IoT set to make the world we live in smarter and more connected than we can fathom, having the right skillsets to get there, is of paramount importance. The IoT talent is key to scaling enterprises’ IoT initiatives and widespread adoption of the technology across verticals. All organizations need to take tangible steps to bridge this talent gap by assessing themselves on the current talent deficit and leveraging the DRAUP IoT Talent Optimization framework.