Since the dawn of technology, there has been fear of losing our jobs as a result of technology advancement. Look at the birth of the steam engine. When it was invented back in 1700s, people believed its arrival signaled the end of manual labor and thousands of people would be jobless.
Instead, the steam engine created completely new jobs in new industries like railway systems and high-productivity factories. While the steam engine did eliminate some manual labor jobs, it created new jobs such as engineers and maintenance workers.
About 250 years later, we see the same fears and concerns. As of September 2015, Amazon had 30,000 Kiva robots automating its warehouses, increasing efficiency and reducing the need for pick-and-pack labor. And at the same time, demand for software developers continues to rise, as Marc Andreessen’s famous 2011 statement that “software is eating the world” becomes ever more true.
In the future, we’ll see this pattern play out once more in the Internet of Things (IoT). Many IoT business models are predicated on improving efficiency by eliminating labor. We see companies connecting garbage cans to the internet to improve the efficiency of deploying waste collectors — which means we’ll need fewer waste collectors.
Will this new technology eliminate jobs? No.
Take Target, for example. Just last month the retailer posted a job opportunity on Indeed for Lead Engineer, Internet of Things. The description of the job says that the hire will “…be building innovative IoT solutions for consumers.” Required skills include experience with programming languages, code and the ability to take an iterative approach to work.
In addition to the job posting from Target, technology consulting firm Janco Associates, Inc., in its latest handbook of corporate IT jobs, identified the IoT Manager as a one of three new positions added to the handbook.
The adoption of technology should be driven by business need, not the other way around.
IoT will do exactly what technology does everywhere — it supplants low-skill jobs with high-skill jobs. Eventually, the Internet of Things will lead to widespread replacement of simple and repetitive jobs in areas such as manufacturing, administration, quality control and planning. But more importantly, IoT will lead to the creation of new jobs that will help organizations champion and pioneer not only their personal success with IoT, but the success of the business as well.