What can you do to ensure your technical skills remain relevant and in demand even as technology evolves?\nFor years, I've suggested that sysadmins and other technology professionals who want to stay ahead of the curve focus on:\n\nDeveloping skills for the next wave of technology innovations\nRoutinely picking up some in-demand skills\nInvesting some of their time in side projects that may not pay off right away\n\nWhile that still seems to be excellent advice, it appears a specific focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) should be added to the list. Earlier this year, Gartner predicted that 20.4 billion IoT devices will be connecting in 2020. That's just over two years from now, and that's a lot of devices.\u00a0Srini Vemula, global product management leader at SenecaGlobal, believes this influx of new IoT devices will lead to tens of thousands of new jobs in the IoT economy.\n\nIn addition, Vemula says the barrier to entry is lower than ever \u2014 "equivalent to what it was when Apple and Google first introduced the App Store and Google Play, both of which led developers to rapidly monetize their ideas. Amazon\u2019s Alexa is a well-known example of this, as developers can build a complementary product or service, integrate with the Alexa platform and monetize it by selling the solution through their marketplace."\n6 IoT skills you will need\nThe six skill areas that Vemula says IT technologists should invest in include:\n\nSensors\nCommunicative chips\nCommunication gateways\nCloud management\nSecurity solutions that cut across the IoT stack\nDomain knowledge that identifies and addresses problems with IoT\n\nIoT sensors\nBuilding useful devices that are able to sense, act, compute and communicate with the IoT network is a critical part of the IoT infrastructure that we need to move forward. This includes sensors that can detect position, pressure, flow, acoustics (sound waves), humidity, light and temperature. The most functional and accurate sensors will be invaluable contributors to the future of IoT.\nCommunicative chips\nChips that sense and communicate data should be energy efficient, low power, very small and accurate. A focus on integrated circuits, low-power technologies and embedded systems is key.\nCommunication gateways\nThis refers to the wireless technology \u2014 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, LTE, WiMAX or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) \u2014 that allows collected data to be sent to the cloud. Network engineers need to understand these technolgies and be ready to engineer protocols and networks that can work with small packets and constrained protocols such as CoAP.\nVemula points out that these protocols need to be self-healing, reliable, secure, able to gracefully handle congestion and able to scale on demand.\nCloud management\nAnalyzing data in the cloud and providing feedback to the IoT device is critical. Vemula suggests that engineers get experience with "Extract, Transform, Load" (ETL) along with batch parallel-processing technologies from the Hadoop stack.\nHe also stresses the importance of working with unstructured data and storage such as HDFS and Cassandra, complex event-processing using tools such as Apache Spark, machine learning for cognitive computing (self-learning, pattern recognition, and processing that mimics human thinking), and data visualization that can identify data patterns and structure.\nIoT security solutions\nEngineers who are able to apply strong security measures and controls both to IoT devices and to the data they process will be increasingly in demand. They should focus on end-to-end security, including the ability to perform reliable testing.\nDomain knowledge\nProfessionals with in-depth knowledge of their business domains will be needed to assess data sensitivity and regulations with which they must comply. They will be key to weighing in on issues of security and privacy.\nSteps to improve IoT skills\nDeveloping skills from an engineering, programming or systems management perspective can benefit from the following efforts:\n\nUsing sensors to capture events or system states\nTransporting sensor data reliably to the cloud\nStoring and aggregating sensor data\nAnalyzing data to provide useful information, make predictions or take actions\nImplementing data analysis in the cloud\nUnderstanding and using the essential technologies\nUsing sensor data to drive decision making\nIdentifying problems that might be addressed by IoT technology\nDocumenting security and privacy concerns related to IoT data collection, aggregation and analysis\n\nRegardless of what we're doing right now, many of us are going to find ourselves increasingly involved in IoT. Developing insights and gaining experience can help keep us in the career passing lane as others find themselves staring at brake lights.