New Skills For New Technologies: Upskilling and the Future of IoT

Helping employers and employees navigate the changing digital landscape.

If you look at almost any article discussing automation, artificial intelligence, or other new technologies in relation to the job market, more often than not, all of the excitement surrounding these new technologies seems to fade away. If you are not familiar with the general bend, they go something like this:

“In the past, new industries hired far more people than those they put out of business. But this is not true of many of today’s new industries . . . Today’s new industries have comparatively few jobs for the unskilled or semiskilled, just the class of workers whose jobs are being eliminated by automation.”

…But, the above quote was published over 50 years ago, in 1961! The author likely had no idea what artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, or even what the internet itself was and yet we are still singing that same song. It’s clear that the changing landscape of the industrial workforce has completely upended entire industries, professions, and livelihoods and will continue to do so in the future.

Why is Upskilling So Important?

21% businesses that report IoT has already
had a major impact on their business
32% businesses that expect IoT to significantly
impact their business in the near-term

Although the Internet of Things space is constantly being redefined, we are now at a place where real and significant value is being drawn from internet connected sensor systems. According to a survey of business leaders from around the world conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 21% say that the IoT has already had a major impact on their business, and 32% expect it to do so in the near future.

This digital transformation will only continue to grow and expand in the coming years. So how can we prepare for the future of work? What can those who are already working now do to compete in a job market that places value on certain skill sets over others? And what can businesses who are adopting these technologies do to help their workers gain the knowledge and skill set needed to work with them?

First, technology companies and the businesses that benefit from their products have to validate these concerns. The stakes are getting higher and higher, and it can be easy, if not enticing, to embrace the positive impact that these innovations offer to the bottom line with no regard to the communities that once made their work possible. However, we cannot stop at validation – it is critical that we contribute to the upskilling of the modern workforce.

As a technology company, Temboo has always known that it was our responsibility to make hard technologies easier to access. That is what we do with the Internet of Things because we believe real value (for businesses and the workforce) is created when you enable people to stand taller with technology as opposed to allowing it to cast them aside.

upskilling logos

That is why we have spent time talking with and learning from countless organizations thinking about and acting on upskilling, from the Aspen Institute’s Upskill America to local organizations like the Industrial and Technology Assistance Corporation (ITAC) and various branches of the New York State Department of Labor. It’s why we work with organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the New York State Society of Professional Engineers to make sure their members have access to training and insights from experts on the Internet of Things.

But what if your workforce doesn’t have the skills that enable them to use these new and emerging technologies?

Upskilling with Temboo: Hashim’s Story

Actually, not all upskilling requires formal training. Let’s take a look at an example: Hashim, an employee at a commercial food manufacturing company, built and implemented a robust Internet of Things system using Temboo, without any formal training or background in IoT or connected sensors.

bakery production line

  • First, he built a cold chain monitoring and alert system which helped prevent product loss and optimized against system failures.
  • Two months later, he implemented a similar application in order to monitor their ovens.
  • Two months after that, he retrofitted the factory’s production lines and facilities with IoT systems that enabled quality assurance food safety teams to know immediately whenever trace metals or other impurities were found in their baked goods.

And these were more than personal projects! If we extend his timeline another two months we’ll see that Hashim implemented these systems in the operations of each and every one of his employer’s 14 factories.

Upskilling Should Not Be a Grassroots Movement

Hashim is now employed as an Internet of Things Engineer at a global supply chain company because of those very skills that he picked up from using Temboo. His story is a harbinger of hope to the many workers who feel overwhelmed by the amount of complicated new technologies being implemented in their workplaces.

There have been a handful of other individuals that have taken this same journey with Temboo and the Internet of Things. Most of them are technicians that deal in what is known as Operational Technology (OT). Their job descriptions entail ensuring that the machinery and processes at their factories run smoothly, troubleshooting any issues that arise, installing new equipment, and repairing it as needed. With no prior background in software development, they’ve managed to develop internet connected sensor solutions on their own. So why aren’t more people attempting to implement these solutions?

Hashim is special, but not because he possesses some kind of unique ability that others don’t. He’s special because he didn’t let the fear of automation and redundancy hold him back from learning new skills. He’s special because, despite having no corporate mandate or explicit support, he took it upon himself to upskill. Imagine if he had others around him who were also not held back by the fear of new technologies, or if he had the company’s support in gaining these new skills. Imagine how much further he could go, how much more quickly he, and so many others like him, could enter the digital workforce.

How Can You Help?

Maybe the global workforce is upskilling themselves on top of working full-time, taking care of themselves and others outside of work, and any other situations life may throw at them. Maybe the 79% of businesses surveyed that have yet to implement Internet of Things solutions are not aware that their workforce has been hustling to learn all about the IoT on the side. But that’s probably not the case.

This challenge is for us to take on: the private sector, government, any institution or individual with an oversized potential to influence and drive change. All of us must play a direct role in upskilling and reskilling the global workforce. This is even more true for technology companies regardless of whether you are an emerging startup or one of the tech giants.

Temboo is taking active and concrete steps to make sure others stand taller with technology:

  • We authored a training course on internet connected sensor systems, certified by the New York State Department of Education, to help Professional Engineers in their professional development requirements.
  • We act as an expert resource on the Internet of Things for organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
  • Temboo is used in over 170 universities around the world, from the classroom to the research lab.
  • We are in conversation with leading certification and education platforms like Udacity and Simplilearn so that their audiences can have access to training on the Internet of Things.
  • We are encouraging other technology companies and Fortune 500 corporations to join us in helping their workers and the industries they serve enter the digital workforce.

And it is heartening to see other business leaders doing the same: the Telenor Group, Tata Consultancy Services, and Swale Heating are three recent examples, and we need others to follow suit. So please, reach out – let’s connect via email, twitter, or any other space that opens up a dialogue. We’re happy to talk about what we are doing and how we can partner to help others as well.

It’s time we all asked ourselves: what can we do to help?

Interested in learning more about our upskilling efforts? Have a recommendation for someone we should be speaking with? Send us a note at upskill@temboo.com.