Hot IT Skills in the Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things is one of the most revolutionary technology trends of our lifetime -- and it’s poised to explode. These skill sets will maximize your salary and marketability in the proliferating Internet of Things.

Hot Computer Skills IoT

Simply put, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the merger of the physical world with the digital. In the IoT, everyday objects are embedded with technology – such as Wi-Fi and sensors – to acquire a unique online identity and gain the ability to interact with their external environment. This infinite network of “smart” devices promises a range of benefits for businesses, individuals and society at large, including reduced waste, increased safety, greater convenience and improved quality of life.

The vanguard of the IoT revolution is here: Smart objects ranging from fitness wearables and home appliances to connected factories and even whole smart cities are coming online daily, but this is only the beginning. As broadband and hardware costs continue to fall, innovations in mobile and cloud abound, and society continues to embrace an increasingly connected culture, the Internet of Things will explode -- Gartner (conservatively†) predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020, when by IoT product and services will be generating $300+ billion per year.

Big business is all-in: Tech-giants like Cisco, IBM and SAP are launching internal business units and spending billions to grow the infrastructure of the Internet of Things, while major consumer and industrial manufacturers like Ford, General Electric, Bosch and Philips are working overtime to develop the next generation of intelligent devices. And it's a feeding frenzy on IoT startups; myriad VC firms alongside IT trend-setters like Google and Intel are rapidly acquiring promising hardware and software suppliers in the Internet of Things ecosystem.  

As the Internet of Things continues to expand, forward-thinking IT professionals will enjoy a variety of challenging and lucrative job opportunities. These IT skill sets will be especially sought-after in the age of IoT:

  1. Business Intelligence

    With so many devices consuming and sending exabytes of raw information, the true potential of "big data” will be realized. Organizations will endeavor to collect, store, and analyze smart device data streams for actionable intelligence -- business intelligence specialists with skills in sensor data analysis, data center management, predictive analytics, PaaS (Platform as a Service), as well as programming chops in popular big data platforms like Apache Hadoop and NoSQL, will be ideally positioned to meet these needs. Strong business acumen will also be a key differentiator, particularly for BI executives tasked with divining additional opportunities in the burgeoning Internet of Things.
  2. Information Security

    Already home to one of the largest talent gaps in the IT workforce, cyber security specialists will be even more sought-after as the influx of IP-enabled devices increase the complexity – and with it the potential exploits and privacy concerns – of networked devices. Will someone be able hack into your smart-fridge and gain access to your entire network? IT security pros skilled in vulnerability assessment, PKI (public key infrastructure) security, ethical hacking, and wireless network security are already being scooped up to evaluate and mitigate risks like these. Knowledge of data ethics and privacy policy will further help you advance your information security career in the IoT.
  3. UI / UX Design

    PC, smartphone and tablet screens are rectangles. Objects in the Internet of Things will come in every shape and size; some will have very small screens, and others will have no visual display at all. Talented user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designers will be a hot commodity as IoT providers strive to develop effective, user-friendly interfaces despite this shift in paradigm. Marketable skills for UI/UX designers in the IoT include Responsive Web Design (wherein visuals dynamically adjust to screen-size, platform and orientation) and Service Design (human-centered design approach that intuitively guides users through complex services).
  4. Mobile Development

    Many of our smart objects will be controlled with mobile devices, i.e., smartphones, tablets, and wearables, driving additional demand for the white-hot mobile application development job role. Platform-wise, Apple iOS and Android application developers will garner the most demand, as these two platforms account for over 90% of mobile devices in U.S. circulation (currently neck-and-neck at about 45% market share each). Digging a little deeper, those with experience developing mobile apps that communicate with external hardware and sensors will be especially sought-after in the proliferating Internet of Things workforce.
  5. Hardware Engineering

    Computer hardware engineers design and build the actual electronics at the heart of the Internet of Things movement. Engineers who can develop and install Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connectivity solutions will be in great demand. Other valuable hardware skills in the IoT include AutoCAD drafting, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) engineering, wireless sensor design, and quality assurance. Hardware technicians will also benefit from razor-sharp soft skills, such as effective verbal/written communication and conflict resolution, which they’ll need in spades to successfully collaborate with design and manufacturing teams in the IoT.
  6. Networking

    Smart devices wield a variety of sensors and applications to communicate with their environment. Getting these devices to interact effectively demands a wide array of networking tools and techniques. Network pros will need top-notch skills in designing, maintaining and optimizing large-scale traffic across secure, reliable and redundant backbones. Working knowledge of WiFi and other wireless (3G/4G/5G) connection methods will be in high demand, along with the ability to support Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communication (NFC), and wireless protocols that don't consume a lot of battery power - such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and ZigBee. Providing for diversity of content and understanding the underlying application flow will also be vital for IT pros supporting this critical data network.
  7. Programming & Software Development

    With the industry still in its infancy, the IoT development landscape is very diverse. There are various platforms to choose from and it'll take more time before industry standards are stabilized and set in stone. Nonetheless, some programming skills are more in demand than others. Python is a choice language. It is popular with Raspberry Pi, the single-board computer that is widely used in IoT projects of all sizes. Also crucial to IoT is Node.js, a low-resource server platform that manages connected devices. Node.js is based on the JavaScript programming language. If you want to dig deeper and get into more advanced scenarios such as programming microcontrollers and Arduino boards, knowledge of C/C++ will be a must. These platforms will give you a great jumpstart in programming the IoT.

The list of marketable skills in the Internet of Things will continue to grow as new business challenges and tech breakthroughs arise. I will continue to update this post with the latest & greatest IoT skill sets as they emerge.

Gartner predicts 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020 (excluding PCs, smartphones and tablets). International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts 30.1 billion autonomous devices on the IoT in 2020, while Cisco and Ericsson each say 50 billion (but keep in mind they have a horse in this race). Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the scope of the Internet of Things surpasses all four predictions by decade's end.

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Top 10 IT Skills in Demand for 2017

IT Skills In Demand 2017

The jobs you want; the skills you need.

“CompTIA projects global IT industry growth of 4.1 percent in 2017. If this growth materializes, it will push the $3.4 trillion global IT industry past the $3.5 trillion mark by year’s end,” according to the CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2017. A one-hundred-billion-dollar increase in one year in an already massive market, where sufficient candidates are already lacking, has to spell job openings, and it does.

ITCareerFinder targets the ten hottest IT jobs this year, based on market data, outlining the skills you need to step into these positions. (The Computerworld Forecast 2017 is the source for job demand statistics where not otherwise stated.)

Here are the top 10 IT skills and job roles that hiring managers need in 2017:

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10 Ways to Keep Your IT Help Desk Relevant

Help desks are changing as technology evolves and users grow more familiar with choosing and supporting their own systems. Use these insider tips to maximize your help desk's productivity and make sure it remains an essential part of your business.

relevant IT help desk

As technology and business continue to evolve, the IT landscape looks far different than it did 10 or even 5 years ago. The traditional on-site help desk – which handled all device rollouts, support questions, break-fix emergencies and other urgent needs – is changing too. Many organizations cut costs to preserve or promote revenue-generating personnel, and the growing trend to outsource what are deemed low-level processes can hand many a help desk over to an external provider.

Furthermore, new trends and challenges such as remote access, cloud services, mobility and global interconnection can produce additional pressures on the in-house help desk. This is exacerbated by today’s instant gratification society, as well as the mindset by some in the business world that the help desk is an impediment to their productivity – something they need to make an end run around rather than working with to achieve their goals (a mindset quite likely produced by help desks that don’t keep up with the changes or which are hamstrung by inefficient operations).

A relevant help desk capable of meeting the current challenges of technology can more than earn its keep by helping employees to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. There is a misconception that help desks don’t generate revenue (the best case scenario is that they are viewed as a negative revenue preventer – in other words, helping to combat lost productivity and wages by keeping systems running), but that’s not necessarily the case. A successful help desk ensures that staff can work as effectively as possible by keeping them informed of new developments, helping them find shortcuts to work efficiently and formulating best practices for the organization to standardize – for instance, developing a PowerPoint template for employees to use in creating presentations which comes with logos and links to reference sites or file shares. These tactics will in turn help build out the careers & capabilities of help desk technicians.

Outsourced help desk services will be quick to tell you they can cut costs and improve service by offering a 24x7x365 infrastructure that will be more efficient and responsive. This may be quite true, and many issues can be resolved remotely through externally managed systems. However, nothing beats hands-on technicians who can respond to situations face-to-face. A dead laptop, for instance, is a lot easier for a technician to support if they can troubleshoot, diagnose and/or replace it immediately, rather than subjecting employees to phone calls, wait times and shipped systems. With this in mind, perhaps the ideal help desk going forward will be a hybrid of on-site and off-site personnel.

Whether on premises, outsourced or hybrid, these 10 operational methods can help keep your help desk relevant and aligned with business priorities:

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Highest Paying IT College Majors

New workforce studies indicate the best computer majors by salary.

Best Computer College Majors 2013

I'm always analyzing employment studies and talking with technology executives about the IT skills and certifications they’re looking for in new hires. In addition to experience and credentials, education is a key factor in landing your dream job. In this article we’re going back to school for a look at the best paying IT majors of study.

The January 2013 salary survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), which tracks college graduates’ job offers, and a recent Georgetown University study based on employment data from the U.S. Census Bureau, independently verified that Computer Science (CS), Computer Engineering (CE) and Computer Information Systems (CIS) graduates earn the highest starting salaries of all technology majors.

Here's a breakdown of the top 3 best paying IT majors:

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Top 10 Technology Skills in Demand for 2016

Technology Skills In Demand 2016

For this year's breakdown of the most sought-after skill sets in the IT workforce, we're once again drawing data from ComputerWorld's annual hiring forecast. In addition, we'll analyze a range of trusted sources (see links at the end) and provide expert commentary to prognosticate about the hottest technology skills through 2016 and beyond.

For its latest forecast, ComputerWorld surveyed 182 IT managers and decision makers. With over one-third (37%) of respondents planning to grow their rosters in 2016 - up from 24% in last year's survey - the technology job market is certainly heating up. This spells good news for existing tech pros looking for a new career path, as well as job seekers new to the IT space. Of course, capitalizing on this growth is contingent on possessing the right expertise, so without further ado, here are the top ten IT skills in demand for 2016:

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Top Paying IT Certifications for 2015

Top Paying IT Certifications 2015

In the rapidly shifting IT landscape, certifications are the most reliable tool employers have to validate your skills in the latest computer systems and IT job roles. These ten certifications will have the greatest impact on your salary in 2015 and beyond.

Technical training leader, Global Knowledge, and respected industry publication turned online community, Windows IT Pro, recently published their 2015 IT Skills & Salary Report -- featuring a comprehensive salary survey of more than 16,300 IT professionals -- giving us valuable insight as to just how much the leading IT certifications can increase your earnings.

Most remarkable this year is the dominance of information security credentials, sweeping the top three spots and representing half of 2015’s top 10 highest paying certifications. Certificates in network design and administration, as well as those that demonstrate knowledge on the business side of IT, in areas like project and service management, are also hot right now.

To reduce statistical anomalies, this list only includes certifications with at least 100 salary survey responses.

Here are this year’s highest paying technical certifications:

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How to Future-Proof Your Career in the Digital Age

Future Proof Your Career

The proliferation of IoT technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and the increased automation of routine tasks in the business world is slated to change the professional landscape dramatically in the coming decade and beyond. If you believe your industry or current job role may be left in the dust, you might be wondering how you can future-proof your career for the digital age. There are impactful things you can start doing now to position yourself as a top earner and valuable asset to employers in the years to come, whether you decide to pick up new skills to stay relevant in your current field or change your career into a field like IT, where your growth potential will remain stable for the long haul.

Here are some tips to help you beat the business world to the punch and future-proof your career:

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5 Security Skills Every Cloud App Developer Should Have

Talented cloud application developers are in high demand, but to build secure applications that protect their employer (and job), they need these vital expertise in cloud and server security.

Security Skills for Cloud Developers

The cloud brings enterprise-grade infrastructure within reach of every application developer. High-quality databases, frameworks, and tooling are freely available, making it easier than ever before to build powerful, custom applications. But building an app and securing it are not the same thing. Developers must also have a solid understanding of the security issues their app is likely to face.

Here are 5 skill sets developers need to build secure, cloud-based applications:

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