Why Should HR Worry About Internet of Things?

Internet of Things (IoT) will disrupt workplaces and pose a new set of challenges for the HR function. What can HR managers do to attract, reward and engage technical talent?

Why Should HR Worry About Internet of Things?

15 Jun 2015 by  Nina Xiao

Over the last couple of decades the role of HR has evolved extensively. Technology has played a pivotal role in this.

The 1990s were the age of the PC when about a billion people got connected. In the 2000s, came the tablets and smart phones that managed to connect about 2 billion people.

And now the Internet of Things is expected to connect over 20 billion devices / things. Michael Porter, professor at Harvard Business School, states that the Internet of Things represents a ‘third wave’ revolution in Information Technology.

Internet of Things infographic

Products will become ‘smart’ and ‘code-able.’ People – and machines – will give inanimate things instructions on what to do. In other words, ‘things will talk to other things.’ All of this will lead to a paradigm shift in the way we live our lives and the way we do business. This will disrupt workplaces resulting in a unique set of challenges for the function of HR.

Workplace Disruption

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already beginning to reshape many things from customer experience, product design to business models. The biggest difference between IoT development and other areas of coding are the "things" themselves. These gadgets can come in almost any form, with many different combinations of hardware. Coding for this broad range of devices is what will separate the successful IoT developers from others.

Hardware skills are the biggest challenge for most developers because hardware adds complexity. So developers with knowledge and experience of hardware will definitely have a big advantage.

There's no single place that's a hotbed of innovation. There are certainly jobs in Silicon Valley, but also in Shenzhen, Taiwan and other places with a history of electronics manufacturing. Many start-ups will attract high valuations and new funding. So they will have the salary budgets and the opportunities to work on new technologies to attract new talent.

At the same time, many companies will transform to technology companies. E.g. Tesla is an auto company. But it makes amazing battery charging technology. So it's also a technology company. 

Due to these trends, every employer would be looking to fulfil technical jobs, starting from software. This will be followed by a wave of new hardware related jobs. Therefore, HR Managers in all industries will need to attract some technical talent. Hence competition for this talent would be fiercer than before.

HR Challenge

Technology companies will need to work harder to attract, motivate and retain talent since they will be competing not only with other technology companies but companies from other sectors and start-ups as well. 

It's going to be finally about how exciting is the job content, opportunities for career advancement, learning and development, and finally rewards. It will call for innovative incentive programmes, something that can tag the organisation’s DNA to the rewards programme itself.

This all boils down to the changing dynamics of building a unique employer brand which can attract and retain talent. The value proposition has to make a sea change in perspective. It now needs to support strategies for the unique experience that the organisation has to offer. Aon Hewitt’s research shows that companies that deliver on their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) will make employee engagement work in their organisations. Aon Hewitt defines engagement as the psychological state and behavioural outcomes that lead to better performance.

The IoT is not just about what customers’ will get to experience from their devices, but also about how HR manages to adapt to a completely new paradigm. Needless to say, HR will have to play a critical role in enabling their organisations to gain a competitive edge and achieving their business objectives in this new age.

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Nina Xiao

Nina is Regional Reward Practice Lead, Technology and Life Sciences Sector, Radford at Aon Hewitt. She has extensive consulting experience in salary surveys, job evaluation, rewards strategy, short-term incentives (STI) and sales incentives.

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