There’s a (relatively) new term out there folks. It’s called “the Internet of Things” (abbreviated IoT) and the definition is a bit complicated. The best one I’ve found so far is from Techopedia.
“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a computing concept that describes a future where everday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.”
Current examples that fall into the Internet of Things category include:
- Fitness and activity trackers that monitor our movements throughout the day
- Smart thermostats that use weather forecasts to adjust temperatures automatically
- Web enabled lights that can be controlled from phone apps
This is just the beginning. An increasing number of companies are introducing products that fall into the Internet of Things classification. That’s why we need to understand this concept sooner versus later. The Internet of Things has implications for us both as consumers and as business professionals.
From the business perspective, the IoT isn’t only about the products a company provides. It’s about connections and partnerships. For example, if I’m building the next robotic vacuum cleaner, a critical part of my business strategy will be determining the best people to sell it – the engineers who are experts at robotics or the sales people who understand vacuums better than anyone else? Or maybe a combination of both?
Human resources professionals might need to develop new recruiting and training strategies for talent in IoT organizations. I recently found this really good article explaining the three types of players in the Internet of Things market:
Enablers who develop the technology
Engagers who deliver services to customers
Enhancers who provide value-add or unique services on top of what the Engagers provide
So, employees working in the Internet of Things could need different skills depending upon whether they are in organizations that enable, engage, or enhance.
Another area of focus for HR pros will be if the company chooses to have internal systems that operate within the Internet of Things. For instance, is it possible that the company’s HRIS, workforce management, and payroll systems will operate within the Internet of Things? And if it does, are there data privacy and security considerations that must be taken into account?
Lastly, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to organizations that, eventually, the Internet of Things could be subject to government regulation. We’re seeing that conversation right now with Net Neutrality. As we become a more tech dependent society, the conversation will happen. We will need to become educated about the issues.
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Regardless of how much tech you or your business uses, professionals need to have an understanding of the terms and dynamics involved in these systems. I can definitely see a moment when a company might decide that part of their strategic vision is to become a part of the IoT ecosystem. Technology analyst firm Gartner has predicted that, in the not too distant future, there will be nearly 30 billion connected devices within the Internet of Things. And as a human resources professional, we have to be prepared to get actively involved in that conversation.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby3