The IoT is pulling IT and engineering skills together in a highly-sought after combination

A shortage of IT skills in large enterprises is an age-old lament; the Internet of Things (IoT) is giving it a new twist.

Not only are large organizations looking for IT talent to help them capitalize on IoT, but they are looking for candidates who have an engineering background that might encompass manufactured products and hardware firmware, according to Daniel Masata, senior VP of Adecco Engineering & Technology, a staffing and services recruitment firm.

In the past, he said, Adecco’s customers’ IT and engineering departments would meet separately to discuss their hiring needs. “IoT changes the way customers are look at hiring needs. Now there’s a single point of contact for IT and engineering.”

One of the main reasons for this shift is that IoT is having an impact on product development, with small connected products changing the structure of many industries, particularly manufacturing. These products often require revamped technology stacks that include hardware and a great deal of software. In addition, security and the infrastructure demands of connectivity need to be addressed.

For example, IoT devices require embedded software and connections to cloud platforms. Hardware manufacturers and other companies such as telcos and consumer electronics companies have had to restructure in order to commercialize connected devices.

Masata said this trend has created a growing need to integrate IT and engineering, but finding people who have their foot in both worlds is a challenge. It means enterprises will have to pay a premium to attract them; those who can boast experience on both sides of the fence have their choice of jobs. Furthermore, he said large organizations Adecco is working with are looking to train people in the areas in which they fall short. IT-savvy staff will receive training in engineering areas, and engineers will receive more IT-centric education, such as software development, systems engineering, product clouds and big data analytics.

Sales people must also become more technical, as technology vendors will need pre-sales and sales professionals who can understand both the technology and the customer’s technical situation and business requirements. Soft skills are seen as important across all areas.

As IT and engineering become more cross-functional, managers are going to need to act as both cheerleaders and umpires because as the more the lines blur between IT and engineering, they will have to make sure they foster collaboration and unity across disciplines. They will also have to manage any conflict that comes from different expectations, work styles and priorities among different functions on the team.

To ease the integration of IT and engineering, Adecco recommends that organizations encourage face-to-face engagement, find creative ways to encourage collaboration between remote workers and celebrate success as a single team, rather than as separate units. In addition, shared, identifiable goals and milestones should be created, and HR should be part of the process to address cultural difference between IT and engineering.

IoT has had the effect of blurring the lines between disciplines and changing the skills required for different IT roles. Ryerson University has recognized this by offering courses that bring different disciplines together, such as design, fashion and engineering to equip students with the required skill sets for IoT development. And as Windows 10 goes on sale at the end of the month, developers are going to have to be prepared to support IoT initiatives that encompass multiple devices.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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