The impact of the development of connected objects on repairs, skills and training

Written by Pierre Sinodinos, on 06 February 2018

Most specialists insist that the development of connected objects, a development that began around 2010, should not only continue but also accelerate.

The Idate (Institute of Audiovisual and Telecommunications in Europe) estimates that there are currently 15 billion internet-connected objects in the world compared to only 4 billion in 2010, confirming the speed of this phenomenon. And these numbers are not stopping there, as according to a study conducted by Gartner and Idate in 2020, the number of connected objects in circulation worldwide will range between 50 and 80 billion. In other words, each person will own approximately 6 connected objects.

These figures allow us to measure the magnitude of the phenomenon and lead to questioning its impacts, including economic, technical, sociological, and institutional impacts.

As a consulting firm, it seemed appropriate to us, in such a context, to conduct a study aimed at identifying the impacts of the development of connected objects on service/maintenance activities, as these activities emerge as strategic not only from a technical and economic point of view but also from the perspective of essential societal issues such as energy efficiency and waste management (improving the durability and repairability of products in particular).

With this in mind, we conducted an exploratory study aimed at anticipating, by 2020, the impacts of the development of connected objects on service/maintenance jobs in six categories: Household Appliances, EGP (Energy, Gas, and Petroleum), IT, Health and Wellness, Smart Home, and Heating.

To ensure the validity of the results, this study relied on exchanges with a wide range of professionals and experts (nearly a hundred people interviewed). In addition to these interviews, we also conducted a series of data collection and statistical analyses.

This study should help the authorities responsible for managing employment in the six targeted professional families to better understand the risks and opportunities generated by the development of connected objects. It demonstrates, indeed, that while this development will likely have only a small impact on employment levels (tendency towards stability, or even decrease), it should, however, lead to significant changes in job content and required skills (necessary mastery of a new field of knowledge and skills, breaking down of knowledge and skills barriers, development of versatility, mastery of new tools...).

There would thus be, in the long term, a risk of skills mismatch, a mismatch that could compromise the expected development dynamic. Hence the recommendations formulated at the conclusion of the study aimed at addressing this risk.