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We are in the dawn of a new cyber society. A society where organizations shall design plans to utilize the unique skillsets of both AI Systems and humans. A society where Humans and AI systems shall work and live together and without fear. A society where humans shall use newfound time and freedom to advance strategic skills and individual talents.
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IoT Evolution or IoT Revolution

During all these years evangelizing on the Internet of Things (IoT), I have been explaining to customers, partners and friends that IoT can positively change the way we do business and the way we live our lives.  I have been asked if IoT is a new revolution in our society, or it is just one more step in the technological evolution of the he digital revolution. Today, the debate continues but whether evolution or revolution, The Internet of Things is here to stay.

If you have read AIG´s whitepaper entitled “Internet of Things: Evolution or Revolution?” you learned IoT, from its origins, to its applications in business, the risks associated with its inevitable arrival and how with the IoT is coming bringing dramatic changes. In the whitepaper we discover that in spite IoT is often presented as a revolution that is changing the face of society or the industry in a profound manner. It is an evolution that has its origins in technologies and functionalities developed by visionary automation suppliers more than 15 years ago

I definitely think it’s an evolution

The development of the Internet of Things is a bold move. IoT is not just a leap from the Internet. The Internet of Things brings with it an evolutionary force that we rarely see in technology.

It is important not scare the most conservative enterprises. It is not about ripping out current automation systems to replace them with new technologies. End users will resist rapid and radical change because of the increased risk of downtime and associated costs.

I think that this debate should be framed in a more general question. What Age period are we living?

 

The Connected Age or the Age of Sensorization

I consider the start of the Connected Age when the Internet of Things term was coined by Kevin Ashton executive director of the Auto-ID Center as the title of a presentation he made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999. Probably Kevin envisioned that the move to sensorization will transform every industry in the world.  In the Age of Sensorization, it’s possible to make more accurate and quantifiable assessments using real time sensor based information.

The main driving force behind the Connected Age is data – data that can be collected, data that can be analysed, data can be shared and data can be used to improve many service offerings.

Data is the new oil in this AgeThe global sensorization is driving new ideas and thoughts that will ultimately drive innovation in our personal, business and working lives. Sensor´s data is opening up new opportunities, driving new business models and taking innovation to new levelsNo doubt that sensors’ data is a valuable commodity. The European Commission has proposed to impose a tax on the revenue of digital companies based on their users’ location, on the grounds that “a significant part of the value of a business is created where the users are based and data is collected and processed.”

We are still living in the Connected Age. I expect this Age ends in 2025, no because there will not be more things to connect but because is when most of things will become intelligent and start controlled by robotsThe Robotic Age or the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Reading Genesis of AI: The First Hype Cycle, I  rediscovered how Artificial Intelligence (AI) was born and evotution till now. But it was after I read Your Data Is Crucial to a Robotic Age. Shouldn’t You Be Paid for It? I realised maybe I was wrong and we already living the final years of the Connected Age and we are entering before 2025 , not without a certain fear, the Robotic Age.

According to IDC: ”By 2019, 40% of digital transformation initiatives – and 100% of IoT initiatives – will be supported by AI capabilities.

Qualcomm envision a world where edge AI makes devices, machines, automobiles, and things much more intelligent, simplifying and enriching our daily lives.

AI has emerged as the most exciting capability in today’s technology landscape. It’s potential is rich in large, complex organizations that generate massive amounts of data that can be fed into AI systems.

Data is the crucial ingredient of the AI revolution. We can envision that  AI -driven companies will represent the future of broader parts of the economy and  we may be headed for a world where labor’s share falls dramatically from its current roughly 70 percent to something closer to 20 to 30. At the same time the number of robots will increase and be part of the society.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence have reached a crucial point in their evolution. A robot is no longer just a mechanical device capable of interacting with its environment and carrying out an assigned task. At present, the main research laboratories all over the world are developing and implementing in sophisticated robots technical, practical and even philosophical tools. Nevertheless, we can not forget that there are still problems in the land of AI.

Could we avoid psychopath and sociopath robots?

Companies need to move quickly to embrace AI so that they can support the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) and deliver the kinds of services customers are demanding.

Finally, if your company is thinking about Build or Buy Artificial Intelligence, take a look at this article.

The Cognitive Age

The cognitive revolution was a period during the 1950s-1960s when cognitive psychology replaced Behaviourism and Psychoanalysis as the main approach in psychological fields. Increasing focus was placed on observable behaviours in conjunction with brain activity and structureFor those of you who believe the mind the centre of all things, David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, wrote two editorials  that point to wider transformations that are shaping the world in which we liveWe could consider the start of Cognitive Age when Facebook abandoned an experiment after two artificially intelligent programs appeared to be chatting to each other in a strange language only they understood. The two chatbots came to create their own changes to English that made it easier for them to work – but which remained mysterious to the human.

Are we sure Facebook shut down Its Artificial Intelligence Program?  Facebook not the only company or government running secrete AI programs. Are you scaredThere are many myths about Cognitive. This article pusblished by Deloitte the Consulting company help dispel five of the most persistent myths.

  • Myth 1: Cognitive is all about automation
  • Myth 2: Cognitive kills jobs
  • Myth 3: The financial benefits are still remote
  • Myth 4: AI is overhyped and bound to disappoint
  • Myth 5: Cognitive technology is just for ‘moonshots’

We need to start thinking how to  prepare ourselves and our business for the Cognitive Age.” As I explain in “Bring Your Own Cyber Human (BYOCH) – Part 1: Augmented humans” we are in the path to being cyber humans. To live in the Cognitive Age, I encourage companies to invest in how to enhance our senses and to increase our intelligence to compete and win over robots.

Key Takeaways

The Connected Age is a fact. ARM is predicting 1 trillion IoT devices will be built until 2035.  For those who think that the IoT is a revolution, not be worried because we are just simply in an evolutionary process.

With the introduction of AI and machine learning, enterprises will be able to embark on projects never thought possible before. The Robotics Age is going to be a great challenge for humanity. The fear of being inferior to our creation, not being able to control them, to compete with machines for a job, to have to obey them will really mean the beginning of a revolution.

What does AI mean for the future?. What will be the implications and the risks? Will AI really understand humans?. With the current skills humanity will be in inferiority to face the cognitive systems that will populate Cognitive Age.  That is why I encourage governments, private laboratories and researchers to work on  Augmented Humans projects if we do not want to be slaves to our uncontrolled inventions.

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A few weeks ago, when I returned from the MWC and I wrote about “The wandering souls Network”, I wondered if it would not have been better for my career if I had specialized in a very specific area instead of being a generalist. I think there are decisions in our life that in spite every of us can analyse many times, the final decision will be always the same, because each person is the way he is.

“I define myself today as “A Generalist specialized in Internet of Things (IoT)”

Although the rest of this article can possibly be applied to all White Collar professionals, I'm going to focus on how will affect your decision of being an IoT specialist or an IoT generalist in a futuristic world dominate maybe by Robots.

Defining IoT Generalist and IoT Specialist

Before start examining the pros and cons of becoming an IoT generalist or a IoT specialist in this competitive and unfair world, it’s important to understand the distinction of these two approaches and how they relate to our future career path.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s simple definition of a generalist states a generalist is “a person who knows something about a lot of subjects”. A specialist is defined as “a person who has special knowledge and skill relating to a particular job, area of study”.

An IoT Generalist is a professional that understand a bit of everything. The IoT Generalist can speak about new business models enabled by IoT, the value of ecosystems, all kind of networks connectivity, protocols, sensors, devices, Gateways, Architecture, Cloud Platforms, Edge Analytics or Predictive Maintenance. And of course, he must be up to date of standards and security. Such a professional should be able to present to C-Level but also to maintain an intelligent conversation with different technical people. A value added of an IoT Generalist is his/her social network reputation, industry expertise recognition and strategic relationship with IoT/IIOT vendors, Telcos, Analyst, System Integrators. 

Being an IoT generalist also require a skill-set of project management, effective communication and good people skills.

Do you have anyone in mind?

An IoT Specialist is a professional that is a subject matter expert in at least one of the core IoT tracks. Since the IoT is very complex even though we try to simplify it with concepts such as  IoT in a Box, an IoT Specialist should offer at least expertise in one of the following 6 distinct tracks:

  • IoT Devices (IoT Hardware Engineer or IoT SW Embedded Engineer)
  • IoT Connectivity (5G, LTE, NB-IOT, 3GLoRA, SigFox, WiFI, Bluetooth) (IoT Telco Engineer)
  • IoT Platforms (IoT Architects)
  • IoT Edge/Cloud Analytics (IoT Data Scientists)
  • IoT Enterprise Integration (IoT Business Process)
  • IoT Development and DevOps. Take a look “IoT Skills For Developers”

Do you have anyone in mind?

But possibly to survive the future era of robots, it may matter little to be an IoT Generalist or Specialist and you will need a mix of a (someone who starts out as a generalist, but also has in-depth knowledge over a particular area) or specializing-generalist (someone who is specialized in a particular field, but also has a broader understanding of other aspects of the business) as Lev Kaye, the founder and CEO of CredSpark, wrote.

Remember that moving between both extremes can be extremely difficult once a career path has been embarked upon, so the mix is always good to have. There is, of course, opportunity to move between general and special IoT roles. But the more experience a professional gain in one area or the other, the more difficult it becomes to make a transition, at least without suffering from a dramatic salary loss.

Advantages and Disadvantages of being an IoT Generalists vs an IoT Specialist

There are benefits and downsides to both career routes. In the following table I have included some upsides and downsides of becoming an IoT generalist versus becoming an IoT specialist.

 

IoT Generalist

IoT Specialist

Advantages

  • Having a good understanding of a wider selection of IoT topics can help make better decisions and find solutions that a specialist might not be able to see.
  • In a fast-changing workplace, IoT generalist transferable skills will become increasingly important and will be less restricted with their career opportunities.
  • The salaries tend to be higher, even at the starting point and can also provide more internal power.
  • You can become a widely recognized leader in your field.

 

Disadvantages

  • By simply knowing the surface you can easily be replaced by another generalist.
  • Become a widely recognized leader will require specialization.
  • The narrowed focus and expert skills in an area mean IoT Specialist can only find work in this narrow field.
  • ·   The opinion on other issues might not be as valid if the topic at hand not involve your area of expertise directly.

 

“The good news is that IoT job market is likely going to require both”

Age does matter - Which path is right for you?

If you are at the start of your career, you are probably pondering which route you should take: IoT Generalist or IoT Specialist

When you start, selling yourself as an IoT generalist could be complicate to justify in a job interview, so will be better become a subject matter expert and then progressively move into a specializing-generalist

My Opinion: If you are under 30 you need to stay on top of your areas of IoT expertise and be willing to move when your expertise becomes a commodity or obsolete. This requires vigilance and the willingness to move with industry trends. You must be aware of disruptive trends in IoT technologies. Take into account that in the future, the IoT Specialists will be also under threat from software and robots. 

But if you have already passed the barrier of 45 years and suddenly you want to use your background and experience to sell yourself as an IoT Generalist, remember that you have 6 months to demonstrate your added value (most of the time you will be required for selling) or you will be fired without any leniency.

My Opinion: As an IoT Generalist over 45 you will find harder and harder to get hired. You need to be creative and become at least in spirit an entrepreneur. You must continue creating your own brand and reputation and extending your network with key people in the industry. Opportunities for IoT Generalist will not be forever but they must fight project by project. It would not hurt to start specializing in any of the IoT tracks.

And Enterprise size matters too. What are you looking for?

IoT Startups

Governments insist to sell us the importance of entrepreneurs for the well-being and sustainable development of countries and encourage us to create startups. Of course, there is no work for life except for Government employees. And it is known that the big multinationals are rewarded in stock market by the number of employees that are fired out each quarter.

Even so, startups are possibly the only way out for IoT Specialist under 25 or IoT Generalist over 45.

My Opinion

  • ·         If you are an IoT Generalist over 45, find a job in IoT startups will be a chimera, except as Sales roles. Launching your own startup with other partners can be a better option.
  • ·         If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 you can try to convince other colleagues to create a Startup and enter in the dynamic of find investors, win awards and pray for a stroke of luck. If you decide to work in an existing startup to get experience and you are not a Founder or Co-Founder, you must be prepared to be exploited, and then move to a Big company.

SMB (Small and Medium Enterprises)

IoT Generalists add value specially to medium to big international companies. Knowing the details about the complex ecosystem and can handle a vast array of technical concerns is becoming critical for SMBs. There is little need for IoT specialist as there are not enough technical needs in any one specific area to warrant a full-time staff member dedicating themselves to them.

This does not mean that if you are an IoT Specialist you should not try to work for a SMB. Other consideration like industry knowledge, proximity or quality of life will compensate the promises of more money and relevance in Big International companies.

My Opinion:

  • ·         IoT Generalist over 45 are typically more valued in smaller organizations. Small organizations typically cannot afford to hire a lot of IoT specialists. You will be more valued in smaller organizations who need their employees to wear a lot of hats. In a SMB the transition to a generalizing-specialist will be natural-
  • ·         If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 and you do not pursue the fame of being a number in a Big international company, you can enjoy more in a SMB because you will have more probability to become more quickly a specializing-generalist.

Big International companies / Top IoT companies

Here we must separate into two types of companies: Top IoT companies including Big IT and OT vendors and End Customers.

There are many lists of Top IoT companies. Almost always these lists include the habitual suspects, and as usual they have notable absences and without forget that the ranks leave much to be desired. But at least such type of list provide the names of companies that either IoT Specialists of IoT Generalists should be searching for a job.

End Customer will need help from both IoT Generalist and IoT Specialist, the question is when and who are them?

My Opinion:

  • ·         The desire of an IoT Generalist over 45, that used to work on Big Companies, is return to a Top IoT Company or Big Enterprise. Although it would seem easy, it is by no means a road of roses. You must create your own strong personal brand and be a well-known and influencer of the industry.
  • ·         If you are an IoT Specialist under 25 with experience in startups you will be hunted soon for one of IoT Top vendor.  Do not let yourself be blinded by the name of the company, but the project and the future importance of IoT within it.

Looking beyond 2025, the begin of the era of robots

Not because I attend the MWC that specifically caused me to think back on the changes that will occur in the IoT job landscape, it was this conference in addition to the many other IoT events that I attended over the past years that make me think how IoT professionals will be living the strong gravitational rift as we approach to 2025 and beyond.

Unemployment is one of the main problems in today consumer owned society. The unemployment is especially cruel to young people in search of their first job. But also for those who have passed the barrier of 45 (IF $your age is >45 THEN "sorry you are overqualified”).

When I wrote “Your job will be in our special metal hands” I imagined a near future in which companies will use Recruitment Robots to search, identify, select and manage candidates and employees more efficiently. Although it is crucial you follow your heart and your passion when making the decision you should consider the requirements of future employers will be robots.

If today, what matters is knowing a little of everything in the Internet of Things, an IoT Generalist, cross-trained and energetic. Fast forward a few years, and the IoT profession will took a different turn. IoT Specialists must emerge, particularly in larger organizations.  IoT Specialist should also be aware of the way IoT jobs will change. Several traditional IoT specialist jobs today will be facing the threat of automatization and will not have an easy time beyond 2025.

THE BOTTOM LINE

When deciding between IoT generalist and IoT specialist career paths, you need to carefully consider the type of person you are. Ultimately, the advantages and disadvantages of either path depend on your personality and drive. If you work hard towards achieving your career goals, you can do so as an IoT specialist and as an IoT generalist and remember you need to be passionate and your attitude will matter today and beyond 2025.

IoT Specialist or IoT Generalist? Choose your own destiny.

Thanks for your Comments and Likes

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