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THE IIOT The human element to digital transformation and the IIoT

From Luke James

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Technology is destined to totally transform industry, with new and exciting technologies taking center-stage to bring significant improvements in efficiency and results. Despite the dominance of technology, however, the human element still plays an important role.

A picture from the SPS Exhibition 2019 which took place in Nuremberg.
A picture from the SPS Exhibition 2019 which took place in Nuremberg.
(Source: Mesago / Malte Kirchner)

While automation is rife throughout industry, people still play a huge role in industrial environments and form a big part of the processes that lead to your parcels being delivered on time, products coming off the line, and logistics networks working efficiently.

Indeed, optimizing all these industrial processes is an important human-led aspect of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

The human element in IIoT and Industry 4.0

Keeping everyone connected in an IIoT environment is a necessary evil. While it can pose a big threat to privacy, it needs to be done so that data can be collected and analyzed for things like process optimization, efficiency monitoring, and better asset management. For it to work efficiently and without the threat of failure, synergies need to exist between Information Technology (IT) and business.

However, enterprise and IIoT lags well behind consumers who have long since integrated smartphones and mobile apps into their lives. Today, many enterprise firms are still in the process of fully utilizing and deploying modern mobile applications that connect employees to their enterprise systems. While consumers are already using Alexa and Google to control their homes, firms are only just beginning to think about how IoT technologies can be integrated with the best return on investment.

Unfortunately, this poses quite the challenge for enterprise firms because they’re very much having to start from square one and overcome things that consumer orientated IoT overcame many years ago. This obviously leads to less synergy between IT and the wider business environment, creating additional challenges for firms.

The importance of upskilling

One of the ways organizations can try and tackle this is by understanding that it’s not just synergies between IT and the business that’s important, but also asking what role the human factor should play in it all.

Research has suggested that to maintain the centrality of the human factor in Industry 4.0 - the latest big change in the way industry operates - companies must increase their skills both in terms of selecting candidates and training in general. Some of the most relevant human skills in Industry 4.0 and the IIoT include data administration and the management of new technologies for privacy, cybersecurity, compliance, and more.

To maintain its role, the workforce will need to evolve despite some job roles being made obsolete by advances in technology like robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Even with this happening, the industrial environment will still require the contribution of people for tasks that simply can’t be carried out by technology, provided that people can up their skills to intercept the blind spots in areas where the capability of technology is not yet sufficient.

Sign up for SPS Connect, taking place this week!

Interested in learning more about how people and the human factor is shaping Industry 4.0 and the Industrial IoT? Sign up for this year’s Smart Production Solutions exhibit, SPS Connect, the digital industry meeting point for the automation industry.

Taking place between November 24 to 26, this year’s digital event is your opportunity to virtually meet and exchange ideas with international experts.


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