A strong IT workforce starts with training

As more businesses become led by digital strategies and processes, today's workforce have a number of new requirements to deal with. This means that business leaders must make it a priority to incorporate technical training into their hiring and HR strategies.

Writing on the CIO website, Diana Bersohn - managing director of Accenture Strategy - explains that CIOs across the world are driving the advancement of technology across their organization. But that doesn't necessarily mean their workforces are able to keep up.

According to Accenture research, she explains, the majority (87%) of companies think that winning the war on talent will give them a competitive advantage; however, nearly a third (32%) of bosses say they are finding it difficult to compete in that war.

To help resolve the issue, Bersohn spoke to Raymond J. Oral, CIO of CNA Financial, to get his thoughts on the best way to train the IT workforce of the future.

Oral notes that successful companies are the ones investing "a large amount of time" in developing their talent for the future, as these individuals will be hugely valuable when businesses need to adapt to market disruptions.

Upskilling IT workforces should begin with identifying which skills and competencies the company wishes to build, then focusing on attracting newly qualified talent into that field. At the same time, leaders should redevelop their training programs to bring the skills of existing employees up to date.

Bersoshn also offers her her own advice on the matter. Firstly, she recommends that companies take a more targeted approach to upskilling - with online training courses, employees can obtain certifications and even "nanodegrees" in specific areas, such as data analysis or web development.

Secondly, Bersohn reminds leaders hunting for talent about the importance of 'softer' business skills, including flexibility, communication and collaboration. As technology evolves, 'hard skills' may constantly change; but the ability to influence others, adapt to changing processes and work across teams will remain essential.

The final piece of advice she offers is to deliver training and development programs through the channels that best suit an audience. For example, remote workers may prefer online tutorials, while longstanding team members may prefer face-to-face training with their peers. Tailoring training will make it more impactful and successful.

How the Internet of Things will transform your workplace

One of the technological advances most likely to impact our workplaces in the near future is the Internet of Things (IoT). The Enterprisers Project website recently spoke to Abbas Haider Ali, CTO of intelligent communications provider xMatters, for his thoughts on how it is going to change our jobs over the next few years.

As Ali notes, we are still in the early stages of IoT in the workplace, with the cost of sensors only just lowering to the point where they can be deployed on large scales. Future workplace transformations will be based on "ubiquitous and meshed connectivity," which will start to emerge in the next couple of years.

Looking ahead five to ten years, Ali predicts that standard data analysis approaches used to draw value from the IoT will begin to fail. This will be replaced by "narrow AI" that is "purpose-built and self-teaching," with specialized systems in sectors such as healthcare and manufacturing. While he stresses that these AI systems will be very different from the "scare stories" we hear about AI now, they will have a disruptive impact on the workplace.

Much of the predicted IoT growth is in relation to machine-to-machine (M2M) software and technology. When asked how he thought humans' roles would evolve in an environment "where machines increasingly solve their own problems," Ali explained that although machines cannot currently work together effectively - relying on human input and analysis - this looks set to change.

"As they continue to mature, the human roles of doing repetitive and dangerous tasks will be fulfilled by machines first," he stated. "In these environments humans will take on the roles of custodians."

He also compared the impending IoE (Internet of Everything) 'revolution' to the industrial revolution and information revolution of last century. Just as these periods caused massive changes not only to the workplace and required skills of the global workforce, but to society itself as well, so will this new revolution spark "the next wave of disruption."

Ali concluded that business leaders should already have plans either in motion or on the drawing board relating to the four technology 'mega-trends' in the current tech marketplace: social, mobile, big data/analytics and cloud. The IoT will affect all of these, and businesses should be prepared.

Every click, swipe, "like," buy, comment, deposit, jog and search produces information that creates a unique virtual identity - something we call

Code Halo

Code Halo TM
Learn more »

Mobile Strategies for Combining IoT, CROME, 3D-ME and Artificial Intelligence

None of us like slow mobile applications or those that ask us stupid questions. Our time has value. Google reports 82% of smartphone owners research and compare prices in stores, and we don’t want to be standing in the aisle answering questions the mobile app and vendor should already know. We want our apps to recognize us, the context, and to understand our needs. We want real-time mobile applications connected to mobile commerce vendors running at real-time operational tempos.

In addition to speed, 90% of 18-34 years olds strongly value personalization in their mobile applications. Personalization comes in at least two forms, latent and real-time. Latent personalization means it lays dormant waiting for an application to be launched and then applies a stored personalized content profile. Real-time personalization, however, means dynamic real-time data, consisting of digital, physical and personal (3D-Me data) data, is being always collected and combined with CROME triggers (real-time contextually relevant opportunities, moments and environments) to instantly provide a personalized experience that is relevant now! For example, a security gate automatically opens because it is integrated with a mobile application that geo-fences the security gate. When you are 100 meters away it notifies the security system to open your front security gate, raise the garage door, turn on the inside and outside lights, deactivate the home security system and notifies your family members that you are home.  An AI algorithm understands the real-time meaning and context of the data it is receiving.

Real-time data collected via GPS on your smartphone automatically triggered a real-time, relevant event using real-time artificial intelligence algorithms. Combining real-time 3D-Me data, CROME triggers and artificial intelligence with smart devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) means more and more of your daily activities and behaviors can be understood and digital conveniences developed.

The scenario above requires an intimate understanding of the customer, their security systems, smart devices, passwords, locations and behaviors.  I predict that soon consumer scenarios will justify extending enterprise mobile security systems out to consumers.  This means enterprise mobile security vendors may soon expand beyond the enterprise into the integrated consumer mobility/IoT/AI markets as the entire integrated system needs to be secured.