In this third part of this series we examine the multibillion business and job opportunities available in IoT, The Cloud, and Big Data. If this is the first article you are reading in the series, then you should head to The 5 sectors that can make you a billionaire between now and 2050 then how to make money (billions) with robotics/AI first. In the first part of the series we saw how risk takers can mint billions in Virtual/Augmented Reality whereas the second part explored the opportunities available in robotics and artificial intelligence.
This is not the first time I am writing about the opportunities available in IoT. The very first article I wrote on this subject explored how IoT can expand Kenya’s economy by more than 250% by 2025 – but only if the country takes drastic steps to do massive investments in the sector. Since that article went up, the government seems not to have done anything as far as the emerging IoT industry is concerned; this is despite the fact that countries that are mindful of the future are taking a lead in ensuring that they reap the maximum they can in the field of Internet of Things before everyone else.
Now that the government is still sleeping as other countries are surging ahead with IoT, the only hope we have is in the citizens themselves to decide to take up the business and job opportunities that IoT offers, and the opportunities are worth multibillions. Good news, as I pen this down, I know at least two individuals who are already doing serious investments in IoT; one is Stathmore University’s ilab and the other is a close friend called George. Strathmore is more concerned with developing security layers in the IoT communication protocols whereas George has set up a startup in Nairobi for providing IoT solutions for smart homes.
Bundled together with IoT are The Cloud and Big Data, emergent platforms that are necessary for the development of all IoT related products and services. The other important layer in the field of IoT is Artificial Intelligence, but I already wrote about how you can take the advantage of the AI and robotics opportunities in a separate article linked to above. Let us see how you can make money from IoT hardware, The Cloud, and Big Data.
IoT devices are as diverse as devices found in homes, offices, farms, factories, schools, hospitals, and elsewhere. Today, there are countable number of Kenyans who own smart bulbs, or smart doors. There are probably no farms that own smart farm instruments, or schools with smart laboratory equipment.
What the above paragraph imply is that practically anyone can venture in the IoT hardware as a merchant – to distribute these hardware to homes, farms, schools, offices and elsewhere. I for example would like to replace my energy saver bulbs with smart bulbs – so that next time I don’t have to walk back from the dark living room to the bedroom. Instead what I’ll do is to tell Google to turn off the kitchen light long after I have hid myself inside the warm blanket.
The cloud is replacing both the hard disk and programmes installed in PCs. With the cloud today, you can have a simple PC operating on a hard disk just big enough to accommodate the operating system, but powered with sufficiently powerful processor and RAM. The rest of the storage, and the programmes needed to perform the various tasks, can easily be accessed via the cloud.
As more and more devices get connected to the Internet, the demand for both cloud storage and useful programmes will increase. Today, about 7 billion smart gadgets are already connected to the Internet, and this excludes the number of traditional PCs (laptops included) and smartphones. By 2022, it is expected that PCs and smartphones connected to the Internet will reach 10 billion, whereas the other things will total 24 billion. In a 2016 article published at EEtimes 2016, data demands resulting from the growth of IoT is mind boggling. The article states, “Statistics published by venues that track the digital data market are staggering. According to IDC Research, digital data will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42% through 2020. In the 2010-2020 decade, the world’s data will grow by 50X; i.e., from about 1ZB in 2010 to about 50ZB in 2020″.
A keen investor should therefore see that right now moving forward there will be massive demand for data centres just for storage. Anyone who steps up to supply the storage space would have made the right decision, with an approximate zero percent business risk.
A few may be discouraged that big tech companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Google, Amazon and others are already offering hi-tech cloud solutions that they may never rival, but the truth is that since these are big corporates, they haven’t designed cloud solutions suitable for small and medium enterprises operating in low income countries like Kenya. Any investor who would do a quick research on the needs of the Kenyans SMEs cannot fail to capture the market.
If providing the storage is not your thing, then you may want to develop programmes targeting individuals and businesses that run exclusively on the cloud. A number of programmes are already available, and today you do not have to install programmes such as Microsoft Office in order to perform simple office tasks like typing a memo, preparing a presentation on PowerPoint, or running an excel sheet to report that trip’s expense reports. Google Docs already provide all these – for free.
As a developer you can go out into the market and find out what programmes that are yet to be availed in the cloud, and develop them, then offer them either for free (hoping to get ads revenues) or at affordable rates.
Big Data is where everyone has an opportunity. Foremost, those billions of connected things in IoT will need to communicate effectively and efficiently. The Internet already provide the basic connectivity needed, but won’t tell the connected devices how they are supposed to communicate. The PCs already have the wold wide web for effective data exchange and file sharing, so the different types of IoT devices will need their version of the world wide web. Thus, web developers for health gadgets, or farm instruments, or household appliances, or any other type of thing that demands online connectivity, will be required.
The greatest challenge in IoT is security. Smart homes will mean homes will be vulnerable to hacking. So will offices. Self operating factories may be hacked and grounded to a halt. The economy will be at risk. If there was a time when any developer needed to shift focus from developing for pleasure to serious business, the time is now. IoT needs thousands upon thousands of cyber security experts to safeguard the big data that are being generated. Any student pursuing ICT, Computer Science, Software Engineering, or any computers related courses, now you know where your job opportunities lie.
Lastly, the Big Data that are being generated by the IoT also needs interpreting. Storing that massive 0s and 1s in data centres will be useless if no one can understand what they mean, and this is why Data Science as a career has been flourishing in the last few years. One may choose to pursue a career in Data Science, or set up an enterprise whose sole purpose is to provide insights on the data collected by IoT. As mentioned in the robotics/AI article, developing an AI specialized in the mining of the big data collected by IoT will also pay handsomely.