Top 5 jobs that will take advantage of the IIoT revolution

IIoT is a major driving force behind digital transformation in manufacturing and other industries. Here are the jobs it will affect most.
Written by Macy Bayern, Multiplatform Reporter

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) revolution is no longer coming -- it's here. While the regular IoT brings connectivity to consumer gadgets like smartphones, wearables, and appliances, the IIoT connects machines and devices in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and more.

By joining big data and analytics with machine learning technology, the IIoT can help industrial employees gain insights from data collected by their machines. This information can help business cut costs, increase safety, eliminate inefficiencies, and improve customer service -- particularly in the manufacturing sector.

SEE: Internet of Things policy (Tech Pro Research)

"Industrial IoT is the top engine firing up digital transformation in industries today," said Nitesh Bansal, senior vice president and global head for engineering services at Infosys. "Digitization is happening across the lifecycle of manufacturing, which is Design, Manufacture, Sell and Service."

People have long feared the impact of automation on human jobs. AI will, without a doubt, impact 100 percent of jobs and industries, ZDNet reported, but not in the negative way that many perceive.

Since IIoT provides employees with never-before-seen business insights, the technology will actually help professionals across industries do their jobs better. Because of this, companies should forge the union of humans and machines, so that humans can get comfortable learning from and operating the new tech, Bansal said.

"The learning of new skills and ways of working will help in the transition to digital manufacturing," Bansal said. "The Industrial IoT-led digital transformation impacts the current organization, and the current silo and compartmentalized organizations within the enterprise will become more collaborative and integrated."

With more than 75 billion IoT connected devices predicted to be installed by 2025, industrial employees need to be ready.

Here are five job positions that will take great advantage of the IIoT revolution.

1. Cybersecurity professionals

The rise in IIoT will lead many companies to turn to cybersecurity professionals, because of the need to protect the influx of data, according to Karen Panetta, IEEE fellow and dean of graduate engineering at Tufts University.

"If IoT has access to all this information and is controlling so many pertinent functions in the data warehouse, imagine what damage could be inflicted if unauthorized individuals gained access to it," Panetta said. "Controlling the temperatures to rise excessively to destroy hardware, access and destroy data, disrupt service and utilize the technology to run illegal operations and launch cyber-attacks on power grids, or gain access to gas line controllers to increase pressure on gas lines to cause explosions."

Cybersecurity professionals will not only need to monitor all of this equipment, but also learn how to keep the data secure, and how to mitigate inevitable attacks.

2. Electricians and industrial technicians

Trained electricians and industrial technicians will be in great demand, as companies will need professionals to actually install the equipment necessary for IIoT, said Elhay Farkash, CEO and founder of Lightapp.

"With the growing demand for IoT deployments across industrial facilities, technicians with specialized industrial experience will benefit from a dramatic increase in job opportunities," Farkash said.

These positions will likely only increase as new technology continues being developed.

SEE: How IoT might transform four industries this year (ZDNet)

3. Maintenance managers/plant managers

The job of a maintenance manager is to keep a plant's machines operating, which could mean managing hundreds of machines, Farkash said.

However, "IIoT has dramatically improved the speed and ease of identifying maintenance issues and preventing them before they occur," he said. "Furthermore, IIoT provides unprecedented data and analysis shedding light into the operations of a plant. As a result, maintenance managers will be able to move beyond maintaining the condition of their plant and start actively improving their plant."

For example, sensors can be placed on the machine so the manager can gain insight and visibility into how that machine is performing, said Paul Miller, senior analyst at Forrester. Managers might then be able to use the sensors to move towards predictive maintenance, he added.

4. Corporate purchasing

Individuals responsible for a company's capital expenditure decisions will also benefit from IIoT data, Farkash said. The data can provide insights into what portions of the company would benefit most from monetary investments.

"IIoT data can be leveraged to calculate ROIs on upgrades or new equipment and understand where an organization's money is best spent," Farkash said. "An abundance of IIoT data will make purchasing decisions simpler, faster and more justifiable."  

5. Industrial service providers

The job of industrial service providers hasn't really changed in the past century, Farkash said. They maintain equipment on a specific schedule, and schedule teams to fix broken equipment, he added.

"As IIoT becomes more prevalent throughout factories, service providers will leverage the same data to recognize and head off potential problems, in addition to streamlining the repair process," Farkash said. "Sales engineers can use this same data to more quickly identify a new opportunity and present customers with quotes tailored precisely to their needs."

IoT also expands visibility for industry service providers, providing insight into how a machine on the other side of the plant is performing, Miller said.

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