By next year, it is estimated that 25 billion devices will already be connected to the internet, with that figure set to double to 50 billion by 2020. These connected ‘devices’ won’t simply be computers, they will range from alarm clocks, cars, coffee makers, fridges, baby monitors and smart watches, to street lighting, parking meters and planes.
Having this quantity of connected devices has the potential to change and improve the way we live our lives. It is already possible to adjust your central heating remotely, but imagine being able to tell your coffee maker to turn on, on the way home from work? Or have your GP assess you remotely via the data coming from your health monitor or even smart watch?
In fact, according to the 2014 Cisco Connected World Technology Report (CCWTR), launched today, roughly 8 in 10 professionals even believe middle income workers will have robots that can assist them with various work related activities at some point in the future. The possibilities are endless. However, for this to become a reality, we need a workforce of technicians and engineers capable of building such a connected network. Imagine the skills needed to manage and maintain an army of connected robot assistants!
Internet of Employment
First of all, the networks needed to create the Internet of Everything (IoE) on such a large scale needs to be built, creating job opportunities for those with specialist IoE networking skills. Fifty billion plus connected devices (not to mention the robots) will create an incredible amount of data – leading to a pressing demand for data scientists to make sense of this information. Security will also be front of mind, creating jobs for IoE security specialists. This is not to mention the applications we haven’t even dreamt of yet which will suddenly become possible in an IoE-enabled world, opening up innumerable opportunities for IoE entrepreneurs to flourish.
Technology isn’t just shaping the jobs of the future and the skills we need to fulfil them, it’s shaping the way we work too. The CCWTR also reveals that the majority of Generation X and Y professionals believe that smartphones and wearable devices will be the workforce’s most important ‘connected’ device. This will enable new ways of working; such as creating ‘supertaskers’ – people who can successfully do more than two things at once, and do them well.
Wanted: 900,000 IT Pros
However, today’s global ICT skills shortage could seriously hamper this connected vision. Realising this potential depends on the individuals and having the skills and knowledge to harness the opportunities IoE provides. Currently the outlook is bleak, with the EU already expecting that there will be up to 900,000 ICT vacancies by 2015.
This is why I, and many of our education partners were in Barcelona last month to launch the first global IoE curriculum, introduced by the Cisco Networking Academy. The new curriculum seeks to help close the broadening ICT skills gap and empower a new generation of innovators to embrace the IoE’s full possibilities. Cisco Networking Academy also recently launched an IoE ‘Smart Grid’ curriculum, which gives electricians the Internet Protocol (IP) skills to service the millions of potential new intelligent smart grid devices that are due to be installed in EU households by 2020.
Smarter teaching – smarter living
Initiatives like Cisco Networking Academy, and support for ICT related skill development, can make a massive difference and create employment on a large scale in both the short and long term. Barcelona’s Smart City programme provides a great example of the positive potential of IoE, creating 47,000 new jobs through innovations from smart bus shelters to a smart waste management system.
Europe has a chance to grasp the opportunities IoE can bring – by equipping people with the skills required to meet the soaring demand for the new jobs created in a world where everything is connected. Five million students have already enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy in the last 17 years, with over 9000 academies present in 170 countries. With the new IoE courses in place, Networking Academy students now have the chance to gain the skills needed to drive the workforce of the future – and be an integral part of the IoE journey.