As the Internet of Things (IoT) explodes in enterprise settings, there's an opportunity for IT pros to step into new leadership roles. Often, IoT deployments are key to transformational initiatives, so having the skills to head up a significant IoT project can have a beneficial effect on career advancement.
Companies are grappling with how to properly manage and secure their IoT deployments. They need people who can evaluate a wide range of IoT connectivity options, balance the requirements of different connected devices, and deploy appropriate edge infrastructure to gather and process IoT input. For IT leaders, now's the time to think about building an IoT team with the right expertise.
Three IT professionals in different industries shared their experiences as they sought out IoT-related skills and certifications to prepare them to fulfil leadership needs. Here's what we learned.
Extending mobile expertise to include IoT
Years of managing enterprise mobile device deployments inspired Jim Floyd to bolster his IoT skills.
"I could see the relationships between how [mobile devices] were managed and how IoT devices would need related management," says Floyd, who is senior manager of mobility at communications company Verizon. "While similar in methodology, IoT is, however, vastly different in scale."
Floyd completed a course in Massachusetts Institute of Technology's executive education program called "Internet of Things: Business Implications and Opportunities." After taking the MIT course and learning about how to drive IoT programs in the enterprise, Floyd wanted to dive deeper and better understand how to actually implement and execute these techniques and strategies, so he pursued IoT-Inc's Certified IoT Professional (ICIP) training program.
"The MIT course provided a framework for approaching the introduction, management, and, most importantly, the vision for an IoT product in the enterprise," Floyd says.
"The IoT-Inc course, being more practical, provided a handbook on 'the how' and a comprehensive look at the implementation, always asking the fundamental question, 'What is the outcome?' The courses were vital in understanding both the conceptual and practical approaches to an IoT project."
While currently not involved with any IoT initiatives at Verizon, Floyd says the knowledge he acquired has provided a foundation for when that opportunity arises. In 2021, once a major mobility management project he's working on is operational, he plans to resume his pursuit of IoT opportunities coupled with new 5G wireless technology.
That includes gaining additional IoT skills. "Like any discipline, a career in IoT will always require re-tooling and learning new skills," Floyd says. "Edge computing, 5G networking, and business intelligence come to mind. It's all about getting data from one thing to another thing, understanding what that data is, and then doing something with the data."
One area that will be important going forward is understanding how IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT) will eventually merge. "There is a lot of existing infrastructure that is working well, but under-monitored and -utilised," Floyd says. It will be interesting to see how legacy industrial equipment will be adapted for greater efficiency and cost savings, he says.
The growth of IoT and IIoT will likely lead to a "culture clash" between IT and operations/facilities, Floyd says, "and anyone who can traverse these two worlds, from either side, will find themselves indispensable."
Overall, Floyd thinks gaining IoT skills and certifications has proven to be useful in advancing his career. "It provided a lens to view future technologies and their interconnectedness, as well as an avenue towards 'the next big thing' for a career," he says. "Understanding better how to guide a new technology [from] concept to approval and then through implementation and delivery are skills that can be applied to other enterprise technology projects."
In addition, Floyd says acquiring these certificates demonstrates a dedication to advancing his career and displays a curiosity about future technologies. "When this topic does come up in my organisation, people understand that I have some background, and I can advise if needed."
Anticipating IoT as cloud initiatives advance
Khalid Saad is also anticipating a need for IoT at his organisation and investing in IoT skills.
Under his own initiative, Saad achieved the IoT Architect certification from Arcitura, which consists of three courses covering IoT technology and architecture, radio protocols, and telemetry messaging. He's now sharing this knowledge with others on his team, as he leads a cloud adoption initiative.
"Once the transition to cloud computing is done, we will move to IoT projects," says Saad, an expert in infrastructure management for the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority, which develops smart systems for government services.
Gaining the certification has enabled Saad to begin talking about IoT opportunities within the organisation, and to review and provide feedback on any plans to adopt IoT technologies. "Once we start the IoT project, I will gain the experience and advance in my career," he says.
Saad says he's not done learning about IoT, and specifically hopes to gain more knowledge about IoT security. "As the number of IoT devices increases and those devices are communicating with each other, the data are being shared," he says. "Organisations will need to establish the governance and ensure the security of those devices."
Using IoT skills to improve healthcare processes
Healthcare is one industry that's moving aggressively with IoT, and Scott Cornish saw an opportunity to play a role.
Cornish is an expert in business-process improvement; he's a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt at Cooper University Health Care, an academic health system based in Camden, New Jersey. Cornish has gained certifications including IOT-Inc.'s Certified IoT Professional, and he has taken a number of IoT-focused courses including Curtin University's online IoT1x: Introduction to the Internet of Things, and Udemy's Internet of Things for Beginners.
"I'm continually improving my skills, and I've taken courses and achieved certifications dozens of times," Cornish says. "IoT is just the latest area of my focus. The recent courses I've taken have been on my own initiative."
Cornish began building his IoT skills prior to joining Cooper University Health Care and understands the opportunities for connected technologies to contribute to process improvement. Specifically, he sees IoT as being a useful technology for the "improve" phase of a Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control (DMAIC) effort. DMAIC is a data-driven cycle used for optimising business processes and designs as part of Six Sigma projects.
"To me, the pandemic has greatly accelerated the necessity for that approach," Cornish says. IoT was a discussion point when he interviewed for his current position, and it promises to be an asset in the post-pandemic world.
"After I joined, we were looking at IoT as one of the possible solutions for improvement projects, but the pandemic has put all of that on hold," Cornish says. "Once the pandemic has been put behind us, I do anticipate using my IoT skills for the various process-improvement projects we undertake."
"Healthcare was an area ripe for improvement using IoT before the pandemic and will be even [more] urgent after," he says.
Where to look for IoT training and certifications
Organisations providing IoT learning and certification programs include:
IoT-Inc.: Offers Certified IoT Professional program, a comprehensive, step-by-step training program to do business with IoT.
Cloud Credential Council: Offers the Internet Of Things Foundation Certification, which covers the basic concepts, terminology, and key components of IoT.
Cisco Learning Network: Offers IoT certification programs that are based on job roles.
Stanford School of Engineering: Offers Introduction to the Internet of Things graduate certificate.
Amazon Web Services: Offers Internet of Things Foundation Series, an e-learning series that includes modules in telemetry, command and control, fleet management, and predictive maintenance.
Microsoft: Offers individual courses related to IoT.
Arcitura: Offers an IoT Architect certification comprised of three courses that develop skills in IoT technology and architecture, proficiency in radio protocols, telemetry messaging, and IoT architecture layers.