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The tech industry has been struggling with the skills gap for a number of years now. Businesses are constantly identifying finding qualified talent to be one of their heaviest burdens. Frankly, it’s not surprising given the rapid pace of transformation experienced across industry verticals. The rising applicability of big data and connected devices within a business is only adding complexity to the issue.

Just as many businesses express concern over finding the right talent to help them stay competitive, many workers are worried their jobs will soon be replaced by artificial intelligence and connected devices within the internet of things (IoT). These concerns are valid on both ends of the table, but according to Microsoft IoT guru, Tom O’Reilly, there is substantial partner opportunity to differentiate and offer unique services to customers in the IoT space.

Understanding the IoT Difference

The reality is that the influx of connected machines will change the skills needed to succeed in industries that will benefit from IoT. The view of this change from the factory floor may not be a positive one, as workers feel that their jobs will be outright replaced by robots and connected devices. This is why businesses need to reinvest in their workforce and encourage and enable their workers to get the training they need to succeed in a changing economy.

IoT is creating demand for a different, but not unrelated, set of skills. As is the case with any influx of new technology, workers need to update their skills to stay relevant. For IoT, that means skills in data science, software development, hardware engineering, testing, operations, as well as marketing and sales. Gartner expects 8.4 billion IoT-connected devices to be in use worldwide within the year, with 3.2 billion of those devices to be applied within a business context. Furthermore, the Centre for Economics and Business Research and technology firm SAS estimate that by 2020 almost 200,000 jobs will be created in the UK by the adoption of IoT and big data alone.

So, while there is clearly a shift in the jobs that will be relevant to the IoT economy, there will certainly be demand for talent in the new landscape.

An Evolving IoT Market

In our latest episode of the Microsoft Partner Network Podcast, Tom said that IoT itself is very different today than even a few years ago. He said that even today, IoT is taking old technology and making it new again. While IoT used to be focused on manufacturing processes, now IoT devices are everywhere. We see them in wearables, kitchen appliances, smart buildings, smart cars, in addition to the vast network of machines within industry settings, and they are only becoming more pervasive.

“Hardware is becoming adaptable. We’re seeing the types and proliferation of devices, sensors and so on, are allowing you to connect and get information, turn information into data, data into insights, more and more, particularly as you get this hyper-scalable computing and analytics capability with the cloud. Connectivity is pervasive.”
-Tom O’Reilly, Microsoft

Understanding the Partner Opportunity in IoT

Given his close proximity to partners who are investing in the technology, Tom believes that the IoT opportunity is nearly limitless. In his words, “There is a swell of reengagement and investment in efficiencies gained by using IoT technology. This new capability of analysis and taking action based on IoT insights is really driving some completely new business models that were never even thought of before.”

That new “as a service” business model, where partners can provide devices or software to meet specific customer pain points, is of significant value to partners. Customers want an outcome, and with a business model based on IoT, their success is directly tied to your success. The opportunity is based on building a new ecosystem and solution in direct response to those customer needs. As such, partners need to think clearly and invest in the talent that will help them set their business apart within the changing IoT landscape.

To hear more from Tom O’Reilly on the topic of IoT, Listen and Subscribe to the latest episode of the Microsoft Partner Network Podcast. This and past episodes are available for download on iTunes, SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music, and YouTube. Subscribe for easy access to the latest episode released every week.