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As Industrial Networks Converge, Skill Sets Must Broaden

As we reflect on the Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) last week in Chicago, workforce readiness – or workforce availability – was a big topic of conversation among attendees. It’s also an issue I addressed on behalf of Rockwell Automation at the event.

Those of us in the industrial sector are acutely familiar with the challenges of workforce readiness. Many of us have been working for years to find, attract and inspire the next generation of workers who will fill the place of many long-serving and soon-to-be-retiring skilled professionals.

But retirement isn’t the only issue affecting worker readiness. Major changes to how manufacturers and industrial organizations operate are proving to have equally major impacts on their workforces.

Specifically, the convergence of information technology (IT) and operation technology (OT) presents significant challenges to the professionals who are responsible for installing, maintaining, upgrading and troubleshooting those technologies.

IT and OT professionals historically have worked in silos, with IT delegated to the business side and OT to the industrial zone. The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing that. Today’s industrial organizations can connect, communicate and collaborate across the entire enterprise, from executive suites and corner offices to plant floors, supply chain partners and remote locations.

As a result, the lines that have traditionally divided IT and OT are blurring. These workers increasingly require skills beyond their core areas of expertise to be able to support IT, networking and control-system functions.

Cisco recently introduced the Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist certification to ensure IT and OT professionals are equipped with the broad skill sets they need to manage and administer industrial network systems. The certification exam tests both hands-on skills as well as knowledge of critical topics, such as the Open System Interconnection (OSI) model, network and industrial devices, safety protocols, and environmental and industrial standards.

Rockwell Automation and Cisco are launching a hands-on, lab-based course this month to prepare IT and OT professionals for the exam and give them the foundational skills they’ll need for the connected enterprises of tomorrow. The first-of-its-kind course, Managing Industrial Networks with Cisco Networking Technologies (IMINS), aims to help IT and control-system engineers install, maintain and troubleshoot industrial network systems, as well as help engineers achieve network availability, reliability and security.

The IoT presents opportunities that today are only limited to our imagination. Leading organizations already are taking advantage of smart devices and converged-network technologies, and most others will soon enough discover they need to embrace them if they want to remain competitive. New technologies are accelerating access to insightful possibilities but we should never forget that our greatest assets will always be our employees, and we must educate and empower those who can best make this great leap forward a successful one.

Looking forward to Automation Fair and continued discussions around how other industries are leveraging IoT to address the skills gap.

 

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Any Given Sunday and the Internet of Everything

On any given Sunday, or Saturday, in stadiums across the country powered by Cisco Connected Stadium Wi-Fi, an average of 2 terabytes of data are coming across the network and tens of thousands of unique connections are being made. This means anywhere from 20-50% of ticketed fans are using their mobile devices to engage. Extrapolate that out to stadiums around the world holding soccer/football, rugby, basketball and other sporting events, and on any given weekend hundreds of thousands of previously unconnected fans are connecting to elevate the live experience.

The stadium or arena, and the services the venue and surrounding areas consume, mirror that of a city – safety, security, transportation, entertainment, food, commerce, and more. This microcosm is a wonderful showcase for the Internet of Everything (IoE) and the new business opportunities made possible. As people (fans, athletes, entertainers), process (operations, fan engagement, transportation management), data (performance, fan-generated, operational), and things (balls, bats, pucks, merchandise, parking spots) become connected, the world of sport will be radically enhanced.

A great example of this is AEG and what they have done with STAPLES Center and LA Live. They are delivering everything a fan wants at L.A. Live with hotel, food, dining and entertainment options in and around the venue. At STAPLES Center they have multiple teams, concerts and other events, making it home to more than 250 events and four million plus visitors annually. Add to that mix new experiences and business opportunities, and what results is a pulsating environment that runs and thrives on being connected. Step beyond the United States and AEG is doing the same thing with The O2 in London, and numerous other venues around the world such as Allphones Arena in Sydney, which recently announced the installation of Cisco StadiumVision.

More and more, I see an industry embracing the need to plan for an IoE based future. Last week Cisco announced its renewal as the Official Technology Partner of the NBA, and one of the key new additions to that agreement was a research and development initiative that will feature a committee of executives from both companies with a focus on employing principles of the Internet of Everything to enhance courtside connectivity within NBA venues. Click here for a front row seat at how Cisco and the NBA are already making IoE come to life. 

In addition, TD Garden in Boston is another great example of a facility leveraging Cisco solutions such as StadiumVision and Connected Stadium Wi-Fi as part of their overall facility renovation.

I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead for the Sports and Entertainment industry as part of IoE. We are going to be a leader in the changes taking place for the more than 250 venues in 30 plus countries around the world already working with Cisco, and those that will be as we collaborate to capture the opportunities that IoE will make possible.

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Don’t Just Survive, Use IoE To Thrive from the Data Avalanche

Can you feel the rumbling? Once firm ground now feels shaky. And that rushing sound you hear is the avalanche of data that threatens to bury businesses that aren’t prepared. Research firm IDC estimates that by 2020, the amount of digital information will explode to 40,000 Exabytes or 40 trillion GB (more than 5,200 GB for every man, woman, and child according to EMC). And while natural avalanches end quickly, it’s clear that the data avalanche is gaining momentum.

This data deluge has significant ramifications for companies and public sector organizations that are seeking answers to questions such as: How do you create insightful information from immense amounts of data? How much of your limited IT budget should you spend on Big Data solutions to protect your competitive position? What innovations are possible from new insights? How can these innovations transform your business?

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Summary: Three Ways IoT is Impacting the #InternetOfEverything

As a key enabling technology to the Internet of Everything (IoE), the Internet of Things (IoT), is connecting new places and objects. Manufacturing room floors, energy grids and wearable devices are just a few examples of the millions of objects coming online at an unprecedented pace.

These “things” are creating vast and increasing amounts of data and sharing it over the Internet – largely via machine-to-machine connections. It is one of many important technology transitions taking place today that is making the Internet of Everything a reality.

Recently, I had the chance to participate in a new Future of IT podcast episode with Steve Hilton, co-founder and Managing Director at MachNation. We discussed how today’s IoT solutions are impacting the evolution of the Internet of Everything and ultimately, business outcomes. You can listen to the entire podcast recording via iTunes.

Here’s a look at three ways the Internet of Things is impacting the Internet of Everything and what it means for your organization:

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Academia and Industry Come Together For The 1st Annual IoTWF Research Symposium

This year we launched the first annual Research Symposium at the IoT World Forum in Chicago. This Symposium brought together scholars, industry leaders and visionaries from across the world to discuss how academia and industry can partner to address the challenges and the opportunities that IoT presents.

We were delighted to be joined by impressive speakers. CEO of Enduring Hydro and former Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Dr. Kristina Johnson,  Stanford University Professor Balaji Prabakar, and World Bank Senior Transport Specialist Dr. Shomik Mehndiratta offered their perspectives on how IoT can improve our cities and societies by transforming how we approach everything from transportation to energy. Purdue University Professor Douglas Comer helped us understand what is required to make IoT interoperable. Read More »

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