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Close the IoT skills gap with training and outside experts

The growth in IoT deployments and demand for expertise have led to a skills gap that inhibits the technology's adoption, but organizations have options that can also close the gap.

Most technical professionals who work with IoT didn't set out on that career path, or at least their expertise wasn't classified as IoT when they started

The field of IoT has developed over the past decade, with many professionals picking up skills as they go or through additional training. Most people involved in IoT projects started out in a background such as computer science, engineering or software development. In the U.S., Florida International University made one of the first IoT degree programs, which started in the spring of 2018.

Without extensive IoT training available in the past, many organizations do not have an in-house expert who can handle all things IoT-related. Instead, organizations must have many different technical professionals work together on IoT projects and build in-house expertise.

Why are IoT skills hard to find?

Successful IoT deployments demand a plethora of skills to address their complexity. For example, one person would not study app development, AI, cloud computing and information security all together. Multiple people specialize in each of those areas and come together to create IoT projects. Add in the fact that the IoT industry is still rapidly changing, and it's easy to see why organizations might have a hard time building IoT from their in-house experts alone.

Organizations looking to build IoT deployments must also compete against other organizations to hire experts in cloud computing and data science because most tech projects require that expertise today. With rapid growth in all these sectors, organizations may find it difficult to compete with the demand for these skills.

What IoT skills do organizations need?

IoT projects bring professionals together from many different technological areas because each use case can require diverse expertise. IoT spans organizational groups and knowledge, including cybersecurity, edge computing, cloud, AI, data storage, applications and operational technology. For example, one organization might use IoT sensors to track the location of vehicles in its fleet and would need expertise in wireless or mobile connectivity. Another organization might want to predict when a factory's machines will fail, which would require AI algorithms to study massive amounts of data. Those are just the skills needed specific to those use cases.

Organizations can encourage building IoT expertise by upskilling their workforce with courses and certifications.

Organizations do not necessarily have IoT-specific roles, but other positions can apply their knowledge to IoT, such as data science. For any IoT project, an organization requires many experts who can set up the infrastructure for IoT to connect devices to the network, create edge and cloud architecture, or design AI models and applications. Businesses may already have professionals with these skills in-house who have not worked on an IoT-specific project. IoT teams are made up of engineers, such as those for systems, software and hardware; designers, such as for industrial or embedded systems; developers, such as for the front end, back end and applications; and data scientists. With the span of expertise needed for each IoT project, organizations must decide which skills are better to develop further internally and which to outsource.

Close the skills gap with training or outsourcing

Course providers, universities and vendors have developed more courses and certifications with a focus on IoT skills over the years. Organizations can take advantage of this by promoting professional development in-house or recruiting professionals who have these certifications.

Address IoT skills gaps in-house

Organizations can encourage building IoT expertise by upskilling their workforce with courses and certifications. Some universities, vendors and nonprofit organizations offer classes focused on general IoT or specific areas, such as IoT security certifications.

Professionals can earn certifications to prove a certain level of mastery over a set of skills at a variety of levels. Beginner-level courses start with the fundamentals to ensure that participants understand concepts including the components of an IoT system, development considerations and how IoT devices connect. More advanced courses cover further in-depth concepts and instruct how to prototype, build and integrate. Individuals have the option to take business-oriented IoT classes that don't require technical familiarity with IoT. Vendors also offer product-specific training to teach IT professionals how to take advantage of their own platforms and products.

Conferences and webinars can also give tech professionals the opportunity to learn from experts and keep up with developments and current best practices.

Partner with outside consultants

Organizations that can't develop an in-house team for IoT deployments can hire a consultant or outside experts. Providers and third-party system integrators can also simplify the setup of IoT projects. Firms focused on IoT bring experience from the IoT challenges that other organizations have faced before. Many tools also offer customer support to streamline development processes, such as development platforms to build an IoT application, or cloud providers hosting data processing and storage. Organizations can also outsource the entire IoT project to an IoT service provider that handles the whole deployment, from its design through its operation.

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