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The Greatest Challenge to the IoT May Be the Human Touch

Andrew Grzywacz

Andrew Grzywacz

Since the idea first emerged, the Internet of Things and its concept of billions of previously unconnected, offline devices – maybe even a trillion of these devices – being linked together have been repeatedly described as the future. A game changer. The next big thing. But, despite all those prognostications, one serious challenge remains: Is everyone actually ready for that future?

Network World reports the findings of a new survey, which reveals, among other things, that the skills necessary for taking advantage of and executing on IoT applications in the workplace are in seriously short supply. Just 20 percent of the 500 IoT technology professionals who participated in the study said they “had all the skills they needed” to execute on their team or company’s planned IoT initiatives. That means if you had assigned an IoT project to any five given employees, only one of them would actually feel fully prepared for the task.

Now, it’s not as if those other four employees are absolutely clueless about IoT and what to do with it. But, if enterprises are already factoring in IoT applications as integral elements of their short- and long-term projects, and 80 percent of the employees they’ve assigned to these roles still feel like they’re lacking in all the skills they need to successfully perform in those roles, then that’s a serious problem. Compounding the issue is that 68 percent of businesses are struggling with hiring for IoT positions, according to a recent survey by one of our clients, Canonical, indicating that enterprises are not filling the IoT skills gaps in their own teams with new hires that have those skills.

Of course, enterprises aren’t slowing down on IoT applications, nor should they. The survey results point to 90 percent of IoT project managers planning to adopt smart technologies that provide oversight on “energy and materials usage,” according to Network World, with “security management, business process automation and wide area controls, such as vehicle and device management” also highly prioritized applications.

But, rather than the hit the brakes on IoT adoption, perhaps these findings should give the C-suite some pause about where they’re allocating their IoT implementation resources. If 80 percent of IoT users in a given company don’t feel fully prepared for these duties, then enterprises should look to ramp up skills and training as major focuses of their IoT preparation. Otherwise, the game changer that IoT is supposed to be could be held back by the very people who are supposed to benefit most from it.