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Could The Industrial Internet Actually Create More Manufacturing Jobs?

Posted By Paul Tate, October 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

It may seem counter-intuitive at first sight, but a new report from GE suggests that the greater adoption of industrial Internet technologies will not only transform the manufacturing workplace, but will also create new jobs connecting increasingly intelligent machines, developing and managing advanced data analytics systems, and connecting manufacturing industry employees.

“Just as the Internet has fundamentally changed the ease with which we access information and interact with each other in our everyday lives, so the Industrial Internet will transform the way in which we can leverage information and collaborate in the workplace,” says the report.

Called ‘The Industrial Internet @ Work’, the GE study suggests that this new wave of technological innovation could boost global GDP by $10-$15 trillion over the next 20 years by accelerating productivity growth. And while traditional debates have tended to focus on machines and data, the report’s authors argue that, “people at work are an equally essential element of this revolution. In fact, it is exactly by changing the way people work that the Industrial Internet will deliver its benefits in terms of greater efficiency, lower costs, and ultimately more and better jobs and rising living standards.”

They predict that new jobs will be generated by both the need to develop and manage the new technologies – such as data scientists, user interface experts, and next-generation engineers - and by the overall expansion in industrial activity resulting from technologically-driven productivity gains. Workers will also see their jobs become more rewarding as they will have easier and faster access to information and be better able to collaborate. They will therefore need to learn and upgrade their skills at a faster pace, while becoming more efficient and productive.

“Even as machines become more intelligent and analytics capabilities more advanced, “ the report concludes, “there are a host of activities that will require people to perform. Operating and servicing complex machines will always require mental and physical capabilities that only humans can provide. And even as the range of activities performed by machines expands, people at work are in the driving seat." 

What’s your view? Do you think the much-heralded industrial internet, and its predicted new wave of interconnected machines and innovative analytical systems, will create new roles and more jobs for manufacturing in the future?

Written by Paul Tate

Paul Tate is Research Director and Executive Editor with Frost & Sullivan's Manufacturing Leadership Council. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors, the Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda, and the Manufacturing Leadership Research Panel. Follow us on Twitter: @MfgExecutive


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