How the Internet of Things creates new job titles

By Michael O'Dwyer, Contributor

As the Internet of Things (IoT) has changed, so have IT teams and the roles and titles that individuals hold.

This trend underscores a maturing of the IoT market. Companies understand that new developments in technology will be long-standing and, as a result, so will the positions that were created to take advantage of them.

The only question is how these new titles will ultimately mesh within corporate frameworks.

“The emergence of IoT-based titles shows that the big companies are taking this area seriously, but that they don’t know yet how it will fit into their existing business,” said William Webb, CEO of Weightless SIG, a global IoT standards body and president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET.)

Business has always spawned new jobs and titles. This is a byproduct of changing conditions. It was not long ago that even something as common as “chief information officer” did not exist. Staff jobs like IT administrator or software engineer also have not accounted for new phenomenon beyond IoT, including big data, analytics, cybersecurity and virtualization.

Microsoft and Texas Instruments are among a long list of corporate giants that have created new IoT- and social media-specific titles in recent years. These organizations realize that they risk falling behind competitors without making these positions part of their fabric.

“IoT has been around since people [first] connected remote devices, but it’s been under different names – Wireless, ICT [information and communication technology], Real ICT, M2M [machine to machine], IoT, IoE [Internet of Everything] and digitalization,” said Richard Cornish, head of Internet of Things at Xchanging, a London-based provider of business processing, procurement and technology services.

The new head of IoT

Cornish added that some companies have created head IoT positions. They focus at first on “managing the transition” to IoT, and then subsequent initiatives, Cornish said.

Cornish expects more companies to create senior IoT positions. He said that Jaguar Land Rover has a connected car director and Alere, Inc., a global diagnostic device and service provider, has a connected health-product manager. “It’s a relevant role for many different industries and verticals,” Cornish said.

The head of IoT role is a complex one covering a number of areas, including sensors, (devices and probes in IT architecture), management tools (firmware device and connectivity), data management (databases, permissions/access protocols), data analytics and service delivery. The head of IoT is also responsible for clients, whether end-user or enterprise.

But success depends on a company’s ability to make fundamental changes in strategy and project development processes. Cornish said that organizations must focus on what he termed “flexible team-based decision-making.”

“We need an agile co-creation scrum-based sprint to deliver an evolutionary incremental approach,” Cornish said. “So most businesses first need to fundamentally change the way projects are structured and delivered.”

The next step

Many companies fail to look at the big picture. They focus on individual devices without considering the longer lasting benefits of a more comprehensive approach to IoT. In some cases, firms have even set unrealistic expectations that a single configuration of a device can have a significant impact on their objectives.

“The biggest obstacle so far has been to push the business to focus on the benefits of IoT and not just the technology behind it,” said Cornish.

A skilled head of IoT can develop a more effective strategy.

Yet Cornish said that the position itself will change dramatically in the near future. He expects many companies to create separate, senior IoT roles that oversee specific functions and products.

The creation of an IoT role is “a first important step,” Webb said. “But only when the titles [such as ‘head of IOT’] disappear will the IoT finally have made it.”

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