In the not too distant future we will all have a “smart fridge” that will tell us when our food has reached its expiry date, and, at the touch of a button, our fridge will order us a replacement.
We already have smart metering in the home; electricity and gas meters that send automatic meter readings to our electricity and gas suppliers. We have apps that allow homeowners to adjust the thermostat on their central heating system while they are out of the house.
This is the Internet of Things, a world where everything, from consumer goods to manufacturing, is connected using electronic sensors and the Internet. Over a wireless network, those devices are engaged in a constant exchange of data.
This has led to an explosion of companies whose specialism is equipping others with the ability to begin using this technology for the betterment of their business.
Take a large chain of bakeries. This technology now allows them to constantly monitor the temperature and function of their ovens from one place. They have relied on an external company to provide them with this technology, rather than having the function in-house.
The effect on jobs
The advent of this new technology has created a sector within the embedded software market for those that have skills specifically to do with wireless technology.
In March 2015, British Gas completed a purchase of Alertme, an Internet of Things technology provider, precisely to fill this gap.
“The deal was created the UK’s leading connected homes provider, by bringing together British Gas’ ability to innovate for mass market consumers with AlertMe’s next generation Internet of Things technology and expertise,” said the company.
According to Michael Porter, the most cited scholar today in economics and business: “A manufacturer of smart, connected products is a cross between a software company and a traditional product company. This mix demands new skills across the value chain, as well as new working styles and cultural norms.”
Nathan Upton, Principal Consultant – Embedded & Electronics, Progressive Recruitment, agrees: “Companies are now looking for expertise in protocols for wireless communication, such as Zigbee or Bluetooth, and I think it’s only going to increase going forward,” says Nathan.
“Performing a candidate search using the keywords ‘Internet of Things’ is far more common than it was even a year ago,” he adds. “There is high demand for permanent staff, but also for contractors who can complete particular projects.”
“It’s impacting just about every business sector you can think of – for example, in security systems that allow you to view your house or your place of work from another location.”
“What all of these things have in common is the need for expertise in wireless protocols, somewhere where we will see more and more demand going forward.”