Technology has disrupted industries since time immemorial and any major disruption is always associated with fear about the job market. Think of any major technology jump like the industry revolution, the internal combustion engines, or even the internet and it becomes clear that the number of jobs created is always more than the jobs that are lost.
Even now as we stand on the cusp of an IoT revolution there are fears that increased automation and efficiency through the development of intelligent AI may end up making a lot of manual, repetitive jobs completely redundant.
Amazon is the perfect example of a company that depended heavily on manual labor to stock its inventory, manage its massive storage warehouses and then pivoted to become one of the pioneers in incorporating autonomous technology for most of its operation. It is now lobbying the FAA to allow it to deliver via autonomous drone packages.
The advent of self-driving cars will put thousands, even millions of drivers out of work as the technology percolates through society. It is true that no technological revolution has affected the number of industries like IoT has the potential to, never have more people been at risk of losing their jobs due to automation at the same time but if past experiences are anything to go by, our society will adapt to these changes and create newer jobs higher up the value chain.
Futurists and technology leaders like Bill Gates have cautioned about the societal changes that we can expect as machines take over many jobs that are considered untouchable right now. We may even have to think about transitioning from a needs-based economy to a resource-based economy where people may not necessarily have to ‘work’ for a living in the traditional sense.
So what does this mean for people who will be entering the jobs market in another 15–20 years?
According to most estimates, a lot of the mechanical, accounting and technical jobs will be handled by machines that will be able to do a better job, be more cost effective and never need a holiday! Creative jobs, on the other hand, will continue to be handled primarily by humans.
Newer jobs in the IoT industry have already started to crop up. Companies like Target are hiring software engineers with a talent for coding and able to creatively set up new IoT applications. Once a large enough number of these engineers have been hired by companies, they will need IoT managers to make sure that the operations are running smoothly and IoT business managers to ensure the timely and cost effective procurement of sensors is being done.
Supply chain logistics will keep on becoming more and more efficient thanks to IoT data analysis that coders will design and perfect.
These are just a few examples of some of the ways in which newer higher value jobs will help relocate the workforce it puts out of work.
Society will need to take a long-term view of the change that IoT will bring because there is bound to be unrest, protest and a net loss of jobs in the long term. Regulatory hurdles are bound to crop up around the world as politicians try and gain favor with their voter base but in the end, technological progress is unstoppable and inevitable. People will find a way to thrive like they always have.