Solution providers are looking to hire more people with startup expertise to help customers break into the Internet of Things market.
"For our customers, each IoT project feels like a 'start up within the parent' organization," said Brian Blanchard, vice president of cloud solutions at 10th Magnitude, a Chicago-based solution provider. "Respecting that fact, we look for entrepreneurial spirit and preferably some level of startup experience. We want team members that can join the customer in that start up journey."
Customers that have IoT business goals aren't necessarily asking about IoT-related technology right off the bat, said Blanchard. They're aiming to solve problems, he said, noting that their goals are around improving productivity and efficiency. They want to understand how IoT solutions can help them reach long term goals and how partners can design a strategy to achieve these aims, Blanchard said.
Reed Wiedower, CTO at New Signature, a Microsoft partner based in Washington, D.C., said that "breaking in" customers to IoT requires " technical knowledge, business development chops, and certain entrepreneurial focus."
Wiedower, whose company is actively hiring around IoT, said that he wants to build up a team who understand the vertical background of customers, as well as how they can actively solve underlying issues.
"IoT has a real impact on a company’s bottom line, so when we sell to customers we have to get them to first realize they have a problem that can be solved with an IoT solution, and then we have to be able to deliver value quickly, in a matter of weeks, not months, to achieving objectives," he said.
Wiedower isn't alone in looking for new IoT talent. According to a survey of vendors, service providers and solution providers by 451 Research, 46 percent of respondents said they face an IoT skills shortage. Roughly 71 percent of IoT survey respondents will train existing IT administrators on IoT skills, and 50 percent will hire new staff.
However, 10th Magnitude's Blanchard said that business problem solving is a skill that can't necessarily be taught. His firm is looking for experts who have already worked in startups and have experience with proofs-of-concept or "seeing the bigger picture."
"We’ve found that this skillset is impossible to teach," he said. "If engineers are willing to help the customer see a much bigger picture, it’s better for the customer in IoT engagements."
Blanchard says 10th Magnitude does also look for technical skills while hiring IoT specialists – but understanding how to guide customers through business problem solving processes is more important.
These specialized skill sets include data transformation skills, like a deep understanding of connectivity, endpoint management, infrastructure, application modernization, serverless coding, and API management.
"Technical skills are important … However, the challenge with IoT is less about the technology. There are a number of repeatable tools, approaches, and assets that we leverage in IoT projects," he said. "Since IoT is so broad, we want people that are brave enough to push the conversation beyond their technical comfort zone."