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When Workforces Collide: The Impact of IoT Talent Needs on non-IoT Companies

Harvard Business Review recently published an article entitled, “Success with the Internet of Things Requires More Than Chasing the Cool Factor.”1 For those in HR / People Analytics, this warning of chasing the cool factor should ring through loud and clear… but that’s not the point I shall make today. I’m going to wave my warning arms more in the direction of strategic recruitment, talent strategy and strategic workforce planning. Whether you’re an IoT company or not, you need to see what is coming… Actually, it’s already here.

The article quotes a survey by Cisco that one-third of IoT projects are not considered to be successful. The text then proceeds to state a few actions the successful projects took. I’ll focus on the portion that impacts HR.

The author states that,

IoT requires new technical skills, ranging from data science and systems architecture to cybersecurity. Equally important, however, is the need for technology experts who possess both the business and the people skills to collaborate across groups inside and outside the enterprise’s four walls.

 IoT solutions tend to span information technology (IT), operational technology (OT), and core business functions. …. Thus leading IoT adopters are increasingly bringing these functions together at an organizational level, creating new roles and hierarchies. 

Hmm, the need for technology experts with business acumen and people skills. Does this sound familiar to my data analytics peers? It seems that we’re all seeking the same magical combination in our people. I suspect that IoT teams will struggle just as much as our analytics teams struggle in finding that combination in the available workforce.

The author further states a significant change that is being seen in many companies… the need to define new roles and new structures.

Last year, BP-Akers, the Norwegian petroleum company, created a new executive position, SVP and chief improvement officer, to spearhead the alignment of its digital and IoT functions. In addition, several manufacturers have recently created a new frontline role, IT manufacturing engineer, with dotted-line reporting to both OT and IT.

An important point here is the pairing of IT and manufacturing. Manufacturing companies are seeking the shift from previously being dominated by mechanical engineers and now finding themselves in need of electrical and computer / software engineers. Where will they find them? They have to head outside of their normal engineering pools which means… they may need to step into yours!

The workforce needs of several industries, previously independent of each other, now find themselves competing for the same talent. They’ve collided. If you thought recruitment of technical talent was tough before, just wait and see what happens next. On the up side, if you’re that technical guru with the skills they all need, you’re about to enjoy a sweet job market!

Heed the warning while you can. It’s time for some serious thinking about your talent and recruitment strategies. Fishing in the same workforce pond where you’ve fished for the past 10 years, just won’t get you there. It’s time for creativity.

Until next time,

Tracey.

 

1. Kranz, Maciej. Success with the Internet of Things Requires More Than Chasing the Cool Factor, Harvard Business Review, August 7, 2017.

Tracey Smith is an internationally recognized business author, speaker and analytics consultant. She is one of the most highly respected voices when it comes to business analytics and HR analytics. She is the author of multiple business books and hundreds of articles in a variety of publications. Tracey has worked with and advised organizations, both well-known and little-known, on how to use data analytics to impact the bottom line. If you would like to talk to Tracey about consulting work or speaking engagements, please visit www.numericalinsights.com  or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn.

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