The Massive Market for the Internet of Things

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Analyst firm IDC thinks that U.S. revenues from the Internet of Things (IoT) will hit $357 billion in 2019.

The IoT industry will reach that massive figure thanks to an aggressive compound annual growth rate of 16.1 percent over the next three years. Freight monitoring, smart buildings, and manufacturing operations will all benefit from increased use of sensors and software to monitor everything from energy efficiency to package shipments.

“The long term opportunity for IoT vendors is helping to identify and create immediate and residual benefits for end users through their technologies,” wrote Marcus Torchia, research manager for IDC, in a note accompanying the data. In the firm’s estimation, manufacturing and transportation will lead in terms of IoT investments, followed by the insurance, retail, and healthcare industries.

Companies such as GE are already active participants in the so-called “Industrial Internet,” a vision of the future in which every piece of heavy machinery—whether factory lines or aircraft engines—repeatedly sends status updates and data to company datacenters. On the consumer side of things, IoT devices haven’t yet become as ubiquitous as some have expected, despite massive investments by Google (via its troubled Nest acquisition) and other firms.

That mixed progress has left some analysts asking when—or even if—IoT will explode as a category, perhaps driven by a handful of must-have devices and services.

While those pundits may doubt that the IoT market will grow as big as IDC predicts within the next few years, many firms have already committed to making sizable investments in the technology. Those companies must not only figure out how to invest the right amount of money in IoT-related projects, but also staff up appropriately. And therein lies the rub: although the term “Internet of Things” has been around for quite some time, the data scientists and developers so essential to the category’s growth are often in short supply.

Developers certainly see IoT as a top priority, according to the recent Evans Data Corporation Global Development Survey. Those tech pros know that machine learning will prove just as vital to IoT’s long-term success as hardware and software, making at least some knowledge of data analytics and tools imperative for anyone working in the space.

Whether or not IoT becomes as massive as IDC predicts, the demand for professionals with the skills necessary to build “smart” software and hardware isn’t likely to slacken anytime soon. That’s good news for anyone devoting more time to learning IoT’s technological underpinnings, especially if they want to land a solid salary.

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