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By Rich Handley

Inmarsat Finds Skills Gap Could Limit IoT Innovation in Energy Sector

If energy companies are to successfully deploy Internet of Things (IoT) technology to drive innovation, efficiency and increased productivity, they must upskill current employees and/or embark on recruitment drives, according to independent research commissioned by Inmarsat. The study found that while the vast majority of energy companies have their sights set on the IoT, a significant proportion lack the skills required to take advantage of the technology.

Market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 large energy companies across the globe and found that while 88 percent expect to deploy IoT technologies within the next two years, many currently lack the skills required to do so effectively. Thirty-five percent of respondents said that they lack the management skills to make the most of the IoT, while 43 percent lack the skills to do so at a delivery level. Fifty-three percent of respondents indicated that they would benefit from additional skills at a strategic level to take full advantage of the IoT. Digging deeper into the specific IoT skillsets that energy companies lack, the research found that 54 percent have a shortage in cyber security personnel, while 49 percent lack skills in technical support, with analytical and data science skills also in high demand.

"Whether they work with fossil fuels or renewables, IoT offers energy companies the potential to streamline their processes and reduce costs in previously unimagined ways," said Chuck Moseley, Inmarsat Enterprise's senior director for energy, in a prepared statement. "Smart sensors, for example, can facilitate the collection of information at every stage of production, enabling them to acquire a higher level of intelligence on how their operations are functioning and to therefore work smarter, more productively and more competitively. But fully realizing these benefits depends on energy companies' access to appropriately-skilled members of staff and it is clear from our research that there are considerable skills gaps in the sector at all stages of IoT deployment. IoT is set to have a similarly transformative effect on a whole swathe of industries, so it's likely that the pressure on skills will only increase. Energy companies who currently lack these capabilities in-house will find themselves in a heated recruitment battle for this talent, with Silicon Valley in particular offering an attractive alternative."

Moseley cited the role that partners can play in helping energy companies to address their IoT skills deficiencies, adding, "There are undoubtedly steps that energy companies can and should take to upskill their staff and attract fresh talent with the appropriate skills, but the growing demand in the market for these skills means that bottlenecks will be hard to avoid altogether. This will make partners, who have greater economies of scale and more concentrated expertise on their side, critical for those looking to exploit IoT technologies, and it is here that energy companies should focus their efforts to supply the skills that they lack."

Those interested can view the research microsite and download the full report at research.inmarsat.com.

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