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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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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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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.

The result is “driving market attention to the business opportunities afforded by connecting physical objects to the Internet,” according to a recent MachNation whitepaper. In fact, MachNation expects IoT to be over more than a $4 trillion industry by 2024!

So, how can today’s proliferation of connected devices and sensors bring organizations closer to capturing a share of the $19 trillion in IoE value at stake over the next decade?

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 closer look at three ways the Internet of Things is impacting the Internet of Everything and what it means for your organization:

#1: The Internet of Things is part of the Internet of Everything.

It’s crucial to understand that the Internet of Everything is the coming together of the Internet of Things, mobility, cloud, big data and analytics, and social.

The Internet of Everything gives people, businesses, communities, and countries the resources they need to collect and access data and turn it into valuable insight.

For example, there is an application that I’ve been using for my GPS watch that includes sensors you wear on your body. In real-time, I can upload the data collected to the cloud and I can review where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.

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Reinventing Innovation to Capture the Internet of Everything Opportunity

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is not only disrupting traditional business models, it is also disrupting innovation itself.

While the focus at this week’s 2nd annual Internet of Things World Forum (IOTWF) here in Chicago is on capturing the accelerated opportunity of connected things, we believe there is even greater opportunity with the Internet of Everything: the networked connection of people, processes, data AND things. IoE is already transforming business outcomes, but in order to capture the full potential of its $19 trillion economic opportunity we will need to cultivate new skill sets and ways of thinking by both established organizations and 21st century entrepreneurs.

Innovating with local communities

This, in turn, requires new types of collaborations and investment mechanisms among industry, government and academia to incubate innovative ideas and turn them into commercial, scalable solutions for the betterment of society.

I am very proud of one such exemplary collaboration between the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) program, led by Mala Anand, SVP of Services Platforms (“Open innovation: Harnessing the ideas, talent and passion of the startup eco-system”), and the Chicago Innovation Exchange (CIE), a startup incubator affiliated with the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and other leading technology organizations in the greater Chicago area. This partnership, announced last April, aims to support the most promising early-stage startups in the region that are focused on game-changing IoE and Smart Cities solutions by bringing the expertise and resources of Cisco and CIE in a co-incubation environment.

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