If you’re a college student considering post-graduation employment options, or if you’re a parent of one, or if your career is already under way and you’re curious where job growth will emerge in an otherwise “meh” economy, take a look at the phenomenon known as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT.
IoT describes devices that have network connectivity built in. In this way, they can be discovered, accessed and controlled by other connected devices. Consumers with Nest-brand thermostats, Chevrolet cars equipped with LTE, or Bluesmart luggage already have bought into IoT.
Hardware manufacturers that load their devices with computing capabilities have figured out what Apple did nearly a decade ago: hardware becomes a lot more valuable when it can run an app. Building those apps takes more money than most OEMs have, though, so they encourage third parties to do it for them by providing development tools and a marketplace to sell their stuff.
The result: a symbiotic relationship between OEMs looking to increase the perceived value and margins of their devices, developers who profit when others download and use their apps, and consumers who simply want to do more.
In a nutshell, this arrangement defines an effective ecosystem. Actually building a self-sustaining ecosystem takes a lot of work, but the alternative is much, much worse. Hardware that does not support an ecosystem eventually runs out of ways to innovate, which puts their manufacturers at risk of joining a race to the bottom, where scale and low price are essential to survival. (Exhibit A: the once-mighty GoPro.)
These companies will need to recruit and hire lots of ecosystem builders. This includes technicians who can help third party developers solve problems, business development to cut deals with high profile developers to accelerate platform growth, marketing of all stripes, and the supporting functions that any business requires, e.g. HR, legal, finance, and operations. Third party app developers also will need to hire more resources to support all these new opportunities.
All this means lots of new, high paying jobs. Just look at Payscale’s list of top paying jobs for Gen Y. Most of these are the sort of high paying opportunities the IoT-enabled app economy supports.
Any company that makes a device today is ripe for this sort of transformation, even companies that have had flat to declining employment for years. Every automobile manufacturer of note is investing in this space. Even the feds have pledged $4 billion, making the car business (once again) a primary source of investment and growth – including new jobs. Other industries can’t be far behind.
If you’re interested in apps in any way, there has never been a better time to dip your toe in the water. For as big as the app economy has become, we’re still in the early stages.