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How women in IoT are driving innovation

How women in IoT are driving innovation

By Jennifer Ivens, Founder and CEO of Canscan. Canscan is part of L-SPARK’s Secure IoT accelerator program. L-SPARK is the destination for Canada’s startup and tech ecosystem to learn, execute, scale and succeed.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that – like the majority of tech sectors – the IoT industry is dominated by men. However, while it may be men that are the most visible in IoT leadership and development teams, that doesn’t mean that women aren’t delivering serious value in those roles too.

The IoT space is primed for growth: the global IoT market is expected to grow to an astonishing value of $1256.1 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 10.53 between 2020 and 2025. And in light of the pandemic, the need for IoT technologies is more prescient than ever.

This means there is even more of a need and opportunity for women leaders and innovators to enter the space and drive progress further than any homogeneous team would be able to. Whether it’s in health tech, supply chain, manufacturing, or the countless other sectors where IoT has impact, the industry is ripe for innovative minds and determined leaders – no matter their gender, race, ethnic background, or age.

Here’s how women play a vital role in powering progress in IoT.

Why IoT needs more women

The imbalance between women and men in tech remains: Statistics show that women tech founders receive less funding than men (women-founded companies only received 2.3% of VC investment in 2018), but make double the revenue. Before getting into the real business benefits of having more diverse teams, it’s vital to state that correcting this gap and ensuring fair and equal treatment of women in tech leadership is paramount, if only from a moral standpoint.

However, bringing more women into the IoT space isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the thing that makes the most business sense. As women offer an alternative perspective and diversify teams, these teams get better at connecting the dots and seeing the big picture. These abilities have huge potential in all IoT applications, but are especially impactful in areas like manufacturing and logistics technologies, where both a macro and micro-level mindset is required.

Not to mention, companies which leverage IoT technologies not only need the engineers to build them, but people with a vision for marketing and selling the solutions too. By expanding their net and being willing to hire both technical and non-technical team members, women from all types of professional backgrounds can enter the space and offer their expertise.

Finally, given the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting demand for innovation in IoT, the industry needs more diversity of thought than ever. Technologies are being made that will impact entire populations, and the only way to make sure everyone is taken into account is to ensure inclusion on the part of the teams that create them.

Women leaders in IoT are driving innovation

There are a number of women leaders in the IoT space that are helping build innovative solutions that deliver real-life impact. For example, Marina Pavlovic Rivas is the co-founder and CEO of Eli Health, and is playing a key role in pushing forward IoT technology within the femtech space.

Eli Health creates hormone monitoring devices that help women access their every-day hormone profile, and send data to an algorithm-powered app that advises users on their precise fertile days. This use of IoT within biotechnology empowers women to gain health insights, understand their ovarian reserve, and have more control over contraception and pregnancy.

Another great example is Amanda Truscott, co-founder and CEO of Rithmik Solutions. Holding a BA in English and a Masters in Journalism, Amanda goes to show you don’t need a degree in a technical subject to be able to head up an IoT company

Rithmik Solutions’ Asset Health Analyzer™ enables mining teams to diagnose and prevent machine failure. The technology works with data collection systems and reporting platforms to give teams insights into past, present, and future failures, allowing them to prioritize maintenance based on actual equipment health.

Jinger Zeng, former CEO of Dronesmith technologies and current Community Manager of Dronecode has made quite the name for herself within the IoT world. Zeng led Dronesmith technologies from 2014 to 2017, which develops drone hardware and software for developers and corporates. Now, she works as a community manager for Dronecode, a vendor neutral foundation for OS drone projects.

Women innovators are increasingly emerging as key drivers of growth and transformation in the IoT space. But as the sector continues to advance and expand, the industry becomes ripe for countless more to make their name.

IoT provides opportunities for anyone who’s ambitious

While there is still a long way to go in creating a level playing field for everyone, increasing numbers of women are founding tech companies and gaining visibility: More than 2 out of 3 tech professionals say they’ve noticed more women in the industry, compared to a few years ago.

As a female founder in the male-dominated space of maritime logistics, my advice for women seeking to enter the world of IoT is not to be put off by the thought of being a woman in tech.

I am not an engineer (my degree is in Sociology) but I was able to succeed as a founder of an AI and IoT-powered business by understanding the market and nailing down the pain points of potential customers – without a degree in data science.

There are countless opportunities for people from all backgrounds with fresh perspectives, innovative minds, and a solid market understanding. IoT companies that are looking for new team members should make it a policy to ensure diversity across their teams and in executive roles. They must demonstrate their commitment and evidence their action around hiring equality and ensure they promote an inclusive company culture if they are to attract the kinds of diverse minds they need.

At Canscan, our leadership team is split 50-50 between men and women, and we embrace the opportunity to hire people from different generations, ethnicities and cultures. Through this approach, we have found that the most innovative, inclusive, and forward-thinking teams are made up of people of all ages, gender identities, cultures, and nationalities.

IoT is a fast-growing and ever-relevant industry that spans across sectors. However, the IoT space will not reach its full potential unless the teams working towards its expansion reject homogeneity and recognize the duty and value of diversity and inclusion. Women are already driving the industry forward in unprecedented ways – imagine the difference they could make if they made up more of the leadership teams, company boards, and R&D developers going forward.

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