2019 Trends in Internet of Things – part 6
After a company has decided where to implement IoT and how the cost/benefit analysis works out, the next step is figuring out how to execute. Inevitably, this will lead to an evaluation of the skills that are needed for IoT success.
As with many emerging technologies, the tendency is to focus on ”IoT-specific” skills. Businesses might search for an IoT Architect or an IoT Security Specialist. These positions might make sense for companies that are heavily investing in IoT strategies, but these specialized roles can mask the fact that IoT support is more likely to be a combination of existing skills that are augmented to some degree with IoT expertise.
It is no great surprise to see that IT security tops the list of skills that companies view as critical to IoT success. Merging the digital and physical worlds opens a host of potential security issues. This topic is explored further in the next section.
The next set of skills are certainly familiar to IT professionals, though there may be varying degrees of proficiency. Data management and analysis are key to unlocking the potential of IoT, but companies may need to start with basic data fundamentals if disciplined data practices are not in place. Networking and device support skills are a given in most IT departments, but companies are still looking for improvement around devices, since those are the “things” in these new systems.
The low ranking of cloud computing and artificial intelligence shows that companies may not yet appreciate how different trends complement each other. Some IoT implementations might be small, but more often they are large-scale projects. Such scale exceeds the the capacity of most on-premises infrastructure, and the ongoing management and analysis requires some amount of automation. Cloud computing and AI will be necessary ingredients of any broad IoT initiative.
Hardware and software are not the only resources that need to be expanded for IoT. In order to fill the many different skill gaps, companies expect to utilize a wide variety of professionals and partners.
Overall, the tendency to focus on “IoT-specific” is reflected in the types of resources that businesses expect to utilize. Three of the top four resources on the list are new IoT-specific technical staff (cited by 44% of companies), new IoT-specific vendors (38%) and new IoT-specific solution providers (38%). However, these options may be more applicable in the long-term, as robust plans are developed and these types of resources become more widely available.
In the short term, companies have to work with what they have. The top option for improving IoT skills is to train current employees. This choice is understandably more popular among large and medium-sized companies, who have more resources on board that can be trained. Just over a quarter of firms in the survey plan to go beyond training and pursue certifications to validate employee expertise.
When current internal resources are scarce or hiring is challenging due to a competitive environment, third parties can provide a supplement or even take the lead on IoT activity. As with other technology trends, medium-sized firms are most likely to explore new third-party relationships or expand the partnerships they already have.
Solution providers entering the IoT space should be just as aware of the IoT ecosystem as the companies that are standing up new projects. Most solution providers will likely view IoT hardware as an adjacent space where they can provide offerings, and 68% of companies currently using a partner for IoT use them for hardware provisioning and support. The most popular way to use third parties, though, is in the area of software. The approach to software development is changing, with more companies doing custom development rather than simply purchasing packaged software. Solution providers should prioritize their own software skills, and they should also consider services around IoT systems or consulting around IoT rules and standards.