A shortage of technical skills could put the IoT at risk of stalling

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A shortage of technical skills could put the IoT at risk of stalling

We keep hearing about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is on its way to revolutionise our lives, but it appears that nearly a third of leading executives at major global companies think that there is a significant skills shortage that is going to hold up the IoT’s arrival. This lack of expertise is going to be an obstacle for enterprises that want to develop IoT capabilities, according to the findings of a new report.

The research was carried out by a consultancy called Business Performance Innovation Network, working in conjunction with The Nerdery and The CMO Council. The Nerdery is a company that develops software engineering, digital strategy and design solutions. The CMO Council is a networking organisation for executives involved in decisions at senior levels. Also taking part in this study was the IoT Institute, which is an organisation for thought leadership based in Penton, Chicago, that examines trends affecting IoT, provides analysis and looks at the implementation of this technology.

Based on surveying 350 members of senior management from around the world, the study was titled The Impact of Connectedness on Competitiveness. The executives who took part included decision makers from large firms such as Hitachi, GE, Whirlpool, Airbus, Philips Lighting and Balfour Beatty. The research indicated that the majority of executives working at large multinational companies thought that deploying the Industrial Internet of Things (or IIoT), would lead to noteworthy effects on competitiveness and the performance of businesses over the next few years.

These senior managers, however, cautioned that making the transition to business practices where the IoT played a major role would require new thinking, new ways of doing things and mastery of new skills. Just over half of those surveyed said new technical competencies would be required, while 33 per cent said business systems would need to be overhauled, and 41 per cent thought better data analysis and integration would be needed. Most managers said significant shortfalls in these skills were expected.

Some 31 per cent of executives who took part in the survey indicated that their companies faced skill gaps when preparing for the IIoT. Although 7 per cent said most of what they needed for business systems using the IIoT was well in hand, another 31 per cent of executives said the skills shortfall was big, though improvement was being seen. One fifth of the respondents said the necessary skills and business systems were being rapidly developed.

However, many of the executives did not see staff, or the lack of them, as the major obstacle in rolling out the IIoT. Much bigger issues are IIoT security and data protection, and the next point of concern is the complexity and the cost of adopting IIoT. Training, skills in the workplace and new management approaches were next on the list of reservations regarding the IIoT.

One of the researchers commented that while global organisations were addressing the opportunities of intelligent machines and products that are connected to the internet, there were not enough skills, or skilled people, to go around. Firms with the skills in place - integration, data analysis, sensor technology and connectivity - along with talented software engineers and consultants, plus system integration specialists, will be poised to take the lead in deploying the IoT and IIoT.