Why HR Needs to Understand the Internet of Things?


The internet has grown exponentially from its inception to now encompass over 3 billion connected individuals and the way organizations deliver goods and services to customers has been irreversibly disrupted.

The next wave of internet growth will see fundamental changes in the products themselves, as the Internet of Things (IoT) aims to connect objects to objects, objects to individuals, and see all these connections facilitated through the internet. Traditional competitive models of industry are being overthrown by new entrants or incumbents who are able to integrate hardware, software and connectivity into their products in a way that meets their customers’ needs.

The increasing ubiquity of these ‘smart’ or ‘connected’ objects will not only reshape the way we live and work, but also start to generate petabytes of data on their operation and interactions. Together with the masses of data already being generated, organizations need to understand how to store, manage and use this data effectively to not only protect themselves and their customers, but to gain competitive advantage in their market.

Big Data - Beyond the Buzzword

Big data has historically been the exclusive domain of banks, telecommunications providers, retailers and e-commerce giants, which generate huge amounts of data, much of which may be unstructured or sitting across disparate systems, making it incredibly difficult and complex to analyze. As digital technologies become increasingly embedded in the way organizations interact with their customers, the potential for any organization to obtain vast stores of data will also grow, leading to a greater need for data-driven insights to feed into organizational decision-making.

Organizations in all industries are starting to turn to data science to make sense of it all – this involves applying scientific approaches such as machine learning, statistical and predictive modelling, applied mathematics and hypothesis testing to the use of data and generation of insights.

Cyber Security - Proactive Risk Management

In addition to making use of all this data, organizations must also ensure its storage, retention and access is managed to protect not only commercially sensitive data, but increasingly the personal data of its employees and customers.

Whether malicious or accidental, a data breach can cost an organization significant time and resources, can cause irrevocable damage to customer trust, and in some cases might contravene the law and attract penalties or regulatory scrutiny. Additionally, some organizations may become exposed to human safety risks associated with unauthorized access or control of physical objects connected through the Internet of Things.

The increasing challenges and risks associated with maintaining data and systems security are leading to a new focus on the proactive management of security – building security and encryption right into the core architecture of products and digital assets, and building in-house teams of penetration testers to test for vulnerabilities by attempting to ‘hack’ into a system or database.

How can HR Help?

As the Internet of Things becomes an integral part of how organizations in every industry operate and go-to- market, HR teams will play a vital role in attracting and retaining the right technical professionals to meet their organization’s needs:

1. Understand Business Requirements

We all know that position titles vary significantly between organizations, but by working closely with the business to understand their future direction and technical challenges, HR can go beyond recruiting for a position title and instead aim to match the skills of individuals (either internally or externally) with the needs of the business.

2. Think Outside-the-Box When Recruiting

When hiring for technical skill-sets that are new in the market, HR teams should think creatively about the technical and non-technical skills required for the role, and how individuals may have acquired these in ways that didn’t involve a traditional IT background.

For e.g.,: many data scientists hail from academia or may have experience in medical research; web developers could be self-taught rather than possessing formal qualifications; mathematicians with no coding/development experience could be valuable in developing machine learning algorithms.

3. Facilitate Knowledge and Skills Transfer

Hiring individuals with unique skill sets is an investment in the organization’s future. HR can make the most of this investment by ensuring that once this knowledge enters the organization, it is retained and developed through appropriate knowledge transfer.

As an HR professional, take up the challenge of adding value and cementing yourself as a trusted partner as you assist your organization to address the challenges that this fast pace of technological change is having on your market for talent.


Michelle Watson
Remuneration Consultant,
Performance, Rewards and Talent Practice,
Aon Hewitt Australia

For more information, please write to us at talentscapes@aonhewitt.com
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