By Neil Patrick
|Drawing credit: Wilgengebroed on Flickr|
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next big thing. The thing is this; right now, digital tech is set to inhabit more and more of the devices and products we use everyday.
If you follow me on Twitter you might have noticed that I am not exactly a fan of AI. Call me a Luddite if you wish – but let’s face it, it’s much less cruel to poke fun at machines than people.
The simple fact is that I am not against technology, I am against the fact that it is destroying jobs faster than we can create new ones.
I like progress, but since the main driver is profit, no-one who has a big stake in this cares one bit about whether or not this progress delivers more jobs. In fact, the business models for most tech startups rely on the fact that they need less people and cheaper ones than the bigger businesses they disrupt.
Technologists want to make new things. Businesses want to make money. Governments are just happy to see a new factory or office doing internetty things, quite oblivious to the fact that this may well be disrupting jobs in more traditional businesses.
Anyway, we cannot change any of this.
What each of us can change is how we think about the IoT. Because this is going to be a massive growth sector in jobs in the next few years.
The temptation I think for most people who are not digital and tech specialists is to think, “Okay Neil, but that’s all computer stuff and that’s not my field at all. I don’t how to write computer code and I don’t want to either.”
And my answer is that you don’t have to do any of this. I am not suggesting that all you lawyers and accountants should grow beards, don cargo pants and become all techy.
Because what’s coming isn’t just more jobs in coding and programming. What’s coming is a transformation in which understanding how to deal with the issues surrounding the IoT will create huge numbers of new job opportunities in every area of specialism. And ones for which there will be a real shortage of skills.
What everyone should be doing right now is figuring out how the IoT is going to impact their job field. If you are a marketing person, what are the ways in which the IoT will impact the consumers of goods or services you deliver? If you are a real estate person, how will the IoT make property more or less saleable? If you are a lawyer, what sort of legal issues are likely to arise as the IoT becomes more and more established?
Because if you start thinking about these things right now, figuring out what the questions are (not even the answers) in YOUR specific area of expertise, and better still writing and talking about them, you’ll be positioning yourself as a rare expert in your field. Your know-how will be scarce. You will have transformed your value and marketability by one simple small change in what you do today that will be a massive investment in your career assets for tomorrow.
And tomorrow is coming very soon.
PS Despite my worries about the impact if the IoT on jobs in business, one area that I really hope grasps this opportunity is the NHS. If anyone needs to do more with less people and cost than before, it's our struggling public health services. Now that would be progress for the benefit of all...