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Need to find IoT talent for your company? Follow these tips

The enterprise’s demand for people skilled in programming languages related to IoT has witnessed a massive rise in the last four years. Alongside, there has been stellar growth in demand for skilled IT personnel who can take care of advanced IoT systems. Because of the key role of Big Data, analytics, edge computing, and cloud computing in IoT, these spheres have also experienced a boost in terms of the kinds of skills that enterprises are looking for. Also, IoT system architecture expertise has been recognized as one of the most premium IT roles in enterprises. Long story short — all kinds of business organizations realize the importance of IoT is the need to ramp up internal IoT expertise. To this effect, enterprises are looking to hire and nurture the best IoT talent to be ready for the future. Whereas this option is open to most organizations, it’s noteworthy that IoT talent comes at a premium. This begs the question — is aggressive targeting and hiring the only solution?

Flickr / Blue Coat Photos

Turns out, the answer is pretty complex. Whereas some IoT technologies are so novel that enterprises have to hire specialists, several of the underpinning technologies are not exactly new. This means that enterprises have every reason to take stock of the existing IT talent they have, map them to technologies that make the core of IoT, and grow them by providing adequate training. Let’s explore the different aspects of executing this in-house talent-nurturing strategy and see when and if hiring from outside makes sense.

The need for IoT talent

A Gartner report estimates that as many as 8.4 billion IoT devices will be in use by the end of 2017, and about 35 percent of these will be in business organizations. By 2020, the number of IoT devices in use globally is expected to exceed 20.4 billion. Of course, for enterprises to be able to manage their share of hundreds or thousands of these devices, they will need talented IT professionals to manage, deploy, secure, and analyze these pieces of equipment.

Race for acquisition and creation of IoT talent

A recent Canonical survey tried to identify what IoT professionals and IT professionals, in general, think about the underpinned technologies that make IoT a success. About 75 percent agree that Big Data skills are important, about 68 percent think IT security expertise is crucial, and about 71 percent said that embedded software development expertise was necessary. Electronics skills were held important by 64 percent of the respondents.

Another key finding published in the survey was that between 30 percent to 35 percent of respondents considered it difficult to hire individuals with expertise in all the above-mentioned technologies. Now, because IoT is itself best envisaged as a complex blend of several technologies, hiring people with IoT expertise becomes a bit of a goose hunt. Too many enterprises commit the folly of floating job descriptions that tend to treat IoT as one unique technology. The risks of this approach are:

  • You will end up hiring people with skills your enterprise is already rich in.
  • Even after you close the hiring round, you will be left with massive skill gaps that could puncture your IoT vehicle.

Instead, organizations would do much better to:

  • Break down their IoT aspirations and goals into modules.
  • Enlist the most important technologies that would contribute to the achievement of success within these modular IoT goals.
  • Take stock of the existing talent pool of the company, with a skill-to-technology mapping.
  • Analyze the available skill pool and identify the most prominent gaps; to fill these, it’s pretty likely that you will need to undertake some level of hiring.
  • Analyze areas where you have sufficient skill resources; these are the opportunities for enabling cross-skilling and dedicated up-skilling to enable IT personnel to become ready for highly integrated IoT projects.

Meet the challenges of filling IoT vacancies

IoT is unique in the sense that it brings together several technical and IT disciplines. Small businesses, where IT is often restricted to basic systems and security management, are ill-placed to quickly build IoT capabilities. For businesses of smaller scale, hiring IoT consultancies is often the more affordable option instead of embarking on expansive internal or external talent acquisition drives.

For large businesses, there are different challenges. At IoT’s core is an incontestable conversion of operations technologies and information technologies. The result — people need to perform roles, learn technologies, take up responsibilities, and work with people they never thought relevant. By hiring several tech experts in different operations and information technologies, and putting them together to work on IoT projects, organizations have to manage the risks related to building completely new teams. These individuals are, obviously, devoid of the binding force of experience within the company. By focusing more on internal talent as a driving force in these IoT teams, these risks are mitigated to a great extent.

More best practices to bridge the IoT skill demand and supply gap

Apart from the strategies and suggestions mentioned above, here are some more best practices that can help enterprises.

  • It’s unrealistic to expect your IT wizards to scale up in more than two or three technologies, so give them challenges that are practical enough to be met.
  • For skills that your enterprise lacks specifically, and the ones that are difficult to nurture (data analytics, for instance), be open to hiring consultants and contractors that can get the ball rolling.
  • The IoT technology landscape is updating and changing, so keep a firm check on the kind of technologies that are growing in importance, and acknowledge those that are supplanted by others.
  • Look for opportunities to collaborate with academia to offer subsidized courses to your employees, so that they can get certified in certain technologies, and serve your company in the process.

IoT will have a huge role to play in the world of business in the coming years. Make sure your enterprise has enough skill and IoT talent firepower to be able to compete.

Photo credit: Shutterstock