The Next Industrial Revolution

The Internet of Things

To many of us, “the Internet of Things” conjures images of your refrigerator reminding you to buy eggs next time you go grocery shopping.

But in reality, the Internet of Things (IoT) is something much more than a talking appliance or other commercial applications.

The IoT touches nearly every industry and every walk of life today. Cities are using IoT technology to improve traffic patterns and public safety; farmers use connected GPS services to be more efficient in crop planting and harvesting; and supply chain operators are using the IoT to make goods tracking more consistent.

Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn defines “the Internet of Things” (IoT) this way: “It’s about connecting the unconnected on a whole new level. It’s not just about things. It’s about connecting people, processes, data, and things to create meaningful and lucrative business and societal outcomes.”

“It’s absolutely the next industrial revolution,” Jeanne says.


“It’s absolutely the next industrial revolution.”


Jeanne believes that the human element is the secret to IoT success in the digital age.

As a vice president and general manager for multinational technology corporation Cisco, Jeanne advises a broad swath of customers, partners, multinational companies and governments on how to prepare for digital transformation and how to innovate and leverage the Internet of Things to maximize business impact and change the world.

She says there are approximately eight billion devices connected to the Internet and Cisco predicts that by 2020, that number will jump to 50 billion. But these numbers don’t mean much without real context.

That’s where Jeanne puts things into perspective and brings the opportunity—and the challenges—to life for the organizations and business leaders who call on her expertise.

The IoT Skills Gap

The IoT is also changing the modern workforce. But while many organizations struggle to figure out how to attract, cultivate and retain the best and brightest talent to make their IoT aspirations a reality, there has yet to be industry consensus on how to accelerate this digitally ready talent.

For Jeanne and Cisco, this goes beyond a supply and demand equation. It starts with a mindset change from the top down—putting people and culture above all and creating an environment where employees are empowered and enabled to up-skill and reskill at speed to achieve digital mastery.

“Creating a new ecosystem of digitally ready talent will make the next industrial revolution a reality and help us reap huge benefits as a society,” Jeanne says.

It’s a challenge she is working to tackle head-on, through the creation of a unique community of experts from corporations, academia, startups, and learning organizations.

It Will Take a Village

“Unlike any other technology evolution of our time, IoT is a team sport,” Jeanne says.

“The IoT will only achieve its full potential on the merits and collaborative efforts of the industry, working tougher to bring up a whole new generation of innovators, inventors, thinkers, computer scientists, business strategists and digital designers.”

“It’s not something any one company or one industry can drive,” she says.

It’s with this collaborative mindset that Jeanne and her colleagues at Cisco formed the Internet of Things Talent Consortium (IoTTC) in 2015.

“I realized, through conversations I was having with other executives from business, government, and academia, that we all face the same major challenge when it comes to our IoT agendas: a shortage of talent.”

Jeanne and her like-minded colleagues believe human capital will be the axis on which the Internet of Things realizes its full potential, and that no one organization can solve this talent/job disparity problem alone.

“So, I thought to myself, ‘We can all try and tackle the talent issue on our own, but we’re going to find a solution faster if we do it together.’”

At first, there were just two members of the Consortium: Cisco and industrial automation giant Rockwell Automation.

But news of the new initiative spread quickly.

Since then, General Electric, Microsoft, MIT, Pearson, the State of Illinois and others have joined.

“The collective intelligence and experience we have is enormous,” Jeanne says.

“Everyone brings a unique expertise to the table, so it creates a great opportunity to learn from each other, share best practices, and build for the future, together.”


“The collective intelligence we have is enormous.”


Pearson’s Role to Play

The decision to seek out Pearson to join the consortium was an easy one, Jeanne says.

“Of all the players in the education space, they have both the deepest expertise and the largest influence.”

“If our goal is to bring the next wave of our economy’s workforce up to speed and close the IoT skills gap, we have to start at the beginning—with how members are being educated and trained, which is Pearson’s exact expertise.”

Jeanne reached out to Leah Jewell, Pearson’s Managing Director of Career Development and Employability.

The two share similar passions.

“Every day, I try to find new learning solutions that will help close the skills gap,” Leah says.

Leah and her team focus on creating and supporting a more nimble education system that supports lifelong learning and meets people where they are.

“The work IoTTC is doing is so timely and so important. Joining was a no-brainer.”

 

Mapping Skills to Jobs

With help from colleagues at Pearson, Leah has put her education expertise to work, helping identify, or “map,” specific IoT skills to IoT jobs. These skills maps not only show employers what abilities they need and want in employees, but also guide individuals seeking careers in this field in developing their own skill sets.

Mapping the skills is a multi-step process, Leah says.

“First, we interview members of the workforce who are working in various IoT jobs.”

“We dig deep into what exactly they do and what skills are required to do it.”

Along the way, Leah and her team keep track of which skill sets and knowledge areas are mentioned more than once.

These are things like computer programming, data science, web development, and User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design.

In response, the IoTTC has curated more than 50 online courses and certifications in these topic areas, as well as those like executive education, and made them available to learners via its website.

The IoTTC site also features current listings for part- and full-time IoT jobs.

The end goal, Leah says, is for the IoTTC site to be a resource for learners and employees as well as C-suite executives. It’s a place to get an introduction to IoT, information on IoT skills, online trainings and certifications in those skills, and a lead on a job that will advance their careers—and their lives.

Like Leah, Jeanne sees the IoTTC as a tool to harness the power of the IoT.

“The ultimate promise of IoT is a more efficient, safer, and better world for all of us.”

“I wake up every day excited about what we can do next to accomplish that.”

 


“The ultimate promise of IoT is a more efficient, safer, and better world for all of us.”
“I wake up every day excited about what we can do next to accomplish that.”