Skills shortages remains the top barrier to industrial IoT adoption for transport businesses


Research by Inmarsat, the global, mobile satellite communications solutions provider, reveals that skills shortages are putting a brake on IoT innovation, inhibiting the adoption of the technology and the effectiveness of IoT deployments across businesses.

These findings underline how little progress has been made in addressing skills shortages since the company’s 2018 report pinpointed that the skills gap was top barrier to successful IoT deployments. This remains the case, with transport organisations needing to do more to upskill, bring in new talent or work with outsourcers with the requisite skills.

According to the research, based on interviews with 450 global respondents across the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas, and transport and logistics sectors, organisations don’t always have the skills they need to fully utilise their IoT projects. A lack of in-house skills remains the top barrier to IoT deployment for over a third (36 per cent) of transport respondents in the study. 

In terms of the specific skill sets businesses need, nearly half (48 per cent), of transport respondents stated that they lacked enough staff with experience and skills in data science and analytics, closely followed by connectivity technology skills (46 per cent). Nearly 2 in 5 (39 per cent) require additional technical support, while well over a third (37 per cent) need more cyber-security talent.

Many transport businesses also lack the strategic IoT skills needed in the C-suite or senior leadership team to fully integrate IoT into their overall business strategies, with less than one in three (30 per cent) of transport respondents claiming to have all the skills needed at this level. Underlining the importance of having a strategic approach to IoT at leadership level and the right policies in place to support this, the research shows those transport organisations with a formal IoT strategy have far more strategic support for IoT at board level (54 per cent, compared to only 10 per cent of those without one).  

Steven Tompkins, Director of Market Development at Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “Our research shows transport companies lack the in-house skills they need in a range of areas that support IoT, such as security, data know-how, technical support and connectivity skills. To effectively integrate IoT and make the most of its extensive opportunities for transport businesses, enhancing in house IoT skill sets and outsourcing to solutions providers when necessary, will go a long way to enhance return on IoT investments.”

Commenting on the findings, Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise said: “Our latest research shows that, despite strong levels of IoT adoption across the board, skills shortages continue to be the top barrier to industrial IoT adoption. It is particularly concerning to note that, amongst those organisations lacking specific skills, almost half are missing security, data science and connectivity technology skills. To help plug these fundamental IoT skills gaps, it is clear that more businesses need to develop formal IoT strategies, to prioritise IoT at the boardroom level and to develop better relationships with IoT service providers.

“The IoT skills gap is a major concern for today’s enterprises. For IoT to be a sustained success, access to the relevant skill sets is needed at all levels. Without all these skill sets in place, businesses will continue to struggle to make the best use of the data they gather, to integrate IoT projects into the wider organisation and benefit from the transformative role that IoT can play in the global supply chain. If organisations do not have the resources to plug these skills gaps internally, they must look to external partners to provide the necessary skills.

“Inmarsat’s Enterprise business is focused on the provision of IoT connectivity to business-critical applications and to remote places via our industry-leading ELERA network. Our expert partners, including skilled solution providers from our Application and Solution Provider Programme, are helping to connect IoT solutions providers with commercial land customers across the globe.”

The study also reveals when it comes to successfully integrating IoT into their operations, only 28 per cent have the skills needed. In procurement, this drops to a quarter (24 per cent) and only 1 in 5 (20 per cent) of transport organisations have the required skills in house to manage the ongoing support and maintenance of IoT projects.

Despite acknowledging the clear gap transport organisations have between the skills held in house and those needed to deploy IoT projects, only a minority turn to outsourcing as a solution. Overall, only 23 per cent of transport respondents typically look to partner with an IoT service provider to support an end-to-end solution and work with them to plan, implement and maintain it. 

The transport organisations with 3,001-5,000 employees, and businesses in North America and the APAC region are more likely to partner with IoT service providers (36 per cent, 31 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively), whereas fewer transport businesses in Europe and the LATAM region use such providers (23 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively). Those businesses lacking the optimal mix of skill sets to select, deploy and utilise their IoT projects need to work more closely with expert service providers to plug their IoT skills gaps to get the best results out of their IoT projects.

The Inmarsat Research Programme report ‘Industrial IoT in the Time of Covid-19’ focuses on measuring the IoT maturity of global industry during the Covid-19 pandemic and the rise of digitalised production and supply chains. It analyses a number of key themes such as adoption, connectivity, data, skills, security and investment.

The report is based on interviews with 450 global respondents across the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil & gas and transport & logistics sectors in early 2021, a year after the start of the pandemic. Respondents from businesses with at least 250 employees from the Americas, EMEA and Asia-Pacific responsible for delivering IoT initiatives at their respective organisations were surveyed.

As part of the research, Inmarsat is also offering businesses the opportunity to measure their IoT readiness versus the respondents in the survey, using a free IoT maturity tool.

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