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Internet of Things: Job Killer or Job Creator?

Is the IOT a Terminator or a Transformer? Where to look to get the most value out of the Internet of Things revolution.

The rebooted Terminator movie came out earlier this summer. Its blasted, futuristic landscape of robot killers and gun-toting, warrior humans probably started with enhanced computer technology similar to what we are experiencing today with The Internet of Things. I’ll be in the theater with my popcorn wondering: Will all this connectivity ultimately enhance our human experience or will we end up like the people on-screen, fighting to keep our place in this new world?

Of course, the Terminator movie is science fiction. But let’s look at the connected devices trends that will either displace or generate new opportunities for those of us in the trenches:

 

Healthcare

In a recent Goldman Sachs report (June 29, 2015), analysts predict that the healthcare arena is slated to experience extremely high levels of change based on the IOT:

"The service side of health care (hospitals, managed care) stands the most to gain from the adoption of digital health and IoT. Better patient management, streamlining the care continuum, reducing costly (and in some cases unnecessary) admissions all have the potential to improve the future economics for health care services," said the Goldman Sachs report. "The first wave of health care IoT technologies that prove successful will be those that drive specific action to improve patient care and correspondingly reduce waste and cost.”

I believe that this scenario provides more creative opportunities for connected Internet of Things developers in the healthcare space. Where can we take wearables in the digital age? We can reduce waste on the primary care side of things while creating opportunity for patients to gain unprecedented control of their health. And our IT geniuses can come up with new apps to connect it all.

 

Manufacturing

In a June 30, 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal, Ernst and Young’s acquisition of  “the systems consulting arm of manufacturing intelligence firm Entegreat Inc.” is just the latest in the mergers and acquisition free-for-all in the IOT (more accurately, the Industrial Internet of Things) space. The opportunities for eliminating waste in the industry are almost as plentiful as the thousands of connections that result when every node in a supply chain—from suppliers to customers and back—is integrated.  The production floor in an IOT-enabled factory will look quite different—yes, and probably will have fewer humans involved. However, the opportunity for job creation is endless—think about developers working to integrate old-school systems of record like MRP and ERP into new, cloud-based, mobile solutions. What about app developers—shop floor personnel might one day work from home—how can you translate inventory data streams, customer orders and work-in-process data to a tablet or mobile phone? These are the questions that new and emerging IT talents can sink their teeth into.

 

Everywhere Else

If you want to unlock the job creation potential of the Internet of Things, look no further than the latest McKinsey report. They’ve identified nine areas of growth to reach the $4 trillion to $11 trillion of value inherent in the IOT’s potential. I’m taking liberties here in placing the remaining seven (we’ve already talked about what McKinsey characterizes as the “human” (healthcare) and “factories” (manufacturing) categories) together in an overarching category of “everything else” with a few characteristics in common: Business Model and Modality Disruptions.

McKinsey talks about Business Model opportunities where the Internet of Things will create brand new ways of doing business. Its focus on “everything as a service” disrupting the traditional back-and-forth of business transactions is spot-on. However, the most opportunities for job creation (aside from the fact that these new business models might very well need a brand new breed of MBA) are what I call “modality disruptions.” These are the “how I will live my life” changes that provide the most value. For developers and IT professionals, this means that their discipline’s value will experience a sea change in the eyes of their leaders. With all of the changes in Cities; Homes; Vehicles, and among all of the categories of emerging value in IOT, the modality disruption of how we do business will ensure IT is not only an enabler; never again a not-so-benign cost center; but a true game changer whose capabilities will guarantee a company’s future—or its demise.

Give us your take on the Job Killer or Job Creator debate -  where do you stand, and what do you think will be the outcome?

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