Will the Industrial Internet of Things catalyze a hybridized workforce?

By: Babette Ten Haken

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Executing a trajectory for your company leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) results in a hybridized workforce. That hybridized workforce is the result of leadership collaboration guided by both the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO).

Does this scenario sound like how your company currently operates when addressing human capital strategy?

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) uses Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for manufacturing. Specifically, IIoT involves a multi-disciplinary approach combining machine learning, machine-to-machine communication, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Big Data. At present, the Industrial Internet of Things focuses on predictive stability: analyzing machine-generated data (often real-time) and utilizing these analytics to improve operational efficiencies. In the future, predictive analytics become a source of product and service innovation.

Internet of Things (IoT) applications may potentially contribute US$14.2 trillion to world output by 2030.  The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is in its infancy, yet its anticipated impact may reinvent the entire enterprise.

IIoT angst disrupts today’s companies, but strategy is not as comprehensive as it should be.

Rapid implementation of an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) strategy is perceived as a competitive mandate. The 2014 GE / Accenture Industrial Internet Insights Report heralded that the C-Suite and Board of Directors would drive strategy for Big Data Analytics adoption. However, mid-level and line of business management with P&L responsibilities did not have as great a sense of urgency.

The 2015 report by SAP / Intel / Forrester reinforced the 2014 GE / Accenture findings. The study found that respondents remained focused on operational efficiency as the endpoint of their IIoT strategy. They did not capitalize on these efficiencies as catalysts for product and revenue development opportunities nor in the creation of new business models.

There’s an intriguing problem identified in this survey-based research. The impact of and need for an Industrial Internet of Things strategy is objectified as a “what.” “It” is something that companies must “have.” The real issues are “how” and “who” and “why.”

Hiring a hybridized workforce is critical to rapid implementation of an Industrial Internet of Things strategy.

The common denominators running across all areas of a business combine people + machines + data. The interface connecting these common denominators is the ability of a company to create, productize and manage analytical insights. These factors address “how” and “who” and “why.”

The hybridized workforce created and hired for the Industrial Internet of Things ecosystem features talent which is equally competent in analytical skills, people/cultural skills and multi-disciplinary, organizational capabilities. These individuals are translators from shop floor to C-Suite to loading dock into customers’ companies.

The hybridized workforce is multi-generational and collaborative. They are made up of current employees and new hires recognized by the CIO, as well as the CHCO, as being pivotal for organizational transformation. In creating this set of cross-functional hiring specifications, the strategy may leap-frog or exclude those line of business or middle management individuals (including skeptical HR personnel) who remain reluctant to change current business, legacy IT and human resource (HR) hiring mindset and processes.

Many individuals play active roles in executing their company’s Industrial Internet of Things strategy. Tomorrow’s hybridized workforce becomes far more engaged than the current workforce complexion. Forthcoming and past Gallup Research and the recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 Study herald nothing less than employee engagement as the fulcrum leveraging tomorrow’s workforce.

The Industrial Internet Consortium can provide the roadmap for the CIO and CHCO to follow.

The recently formed Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is an industry group created in 2014 by IBM, General Electric, AT&T, Cisco and Intel. Its focus: accelerating the spread of the Industrial Internet of Things ecosystem and rate of adoption of sensor-based technology. The IIC has created sandboxes (“testbeds”), published best practices and business cases, established a set of open standards and identified areas of product and revenue opportunity.

The IIC is the Mother Ship. They are inventing the Industrial Internet of Things wheel. That is good news for companies of all sizes who remain overwhelmed by the “how,” “who” and “why” involved in adapting their business models to the Industrial Internet of Things.

The IIC will serve as a seminal think-tank. Its focus, at present, involves Business Strategy & Solution Lifecycle, Marketing, Security, Technology and Testbeds. Consider, however, that people interface with software and machines in executing strategy. I anticipate that the IIC will recognize, in the not too distant future, the pivotal role of a workforce hiring strategy in transitioning to a global business ecosystem catalyzed by the Industrial Internet of Things.

In the meantime, create your company’s DIY human capital strategy for the Industrial Internet of Things.  

Wise companies will form C-Suite based work groups which simultaneously evaluate the impact of the Industrial Internet of Things on every strategic level. The Chief Information Officer and the Chief Human Capital Officer will be responsible for co-creating the transformation.

There is no either-or option. Hiring a hybridized workforce for the Industrial Internet of Things begins at the same time that legacy IT infrastructure is addressed.

When strategy is created for simultaneous execution across multiple disciplines, there is no opportunity to get any cart before the horse. As systems are upgraded or replaced, the workforce will be retrained, retooled, recalibrated and newly hired. This strategy involves wall-to-wall buy-in and engagement at all levels, particularly at the mid-level management and line of business leadership tiers.

Like the transitional and translational role of tomorrow’s CIO, tomorrow’s hybridized workforce serves as cultural architects for implementation of an Industrial Internet of Things strategy.  They will demystify Big Data for co-workers and transition the company towards a research-based, innovative-yet-analytical mindset for decision-making, regardless of job tier.

Their focus: creating enduring business value in engineered and business solutions.

That scenario doesn’t sound like any company’s current status quo. Hiring for the Industrial Internet of Things ecosystem drives corporate cultural transformation at the same time it drives change in operational and business process management.

What are you waiting for?

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About The Author

Babette Ten Haken

Founder & President, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC

Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six... Read more