Inmarsat research: skills gap threatens IoT innovation in energy sector
Inmarsat research: skills gap threatens IoT innovation

Inmarsat research: skills gap threatens IoT innovation in energy sector

New research from satellite communications provider Inmarsat suggests that a skills gap in fields such as data security, analytical data science and technical support could put the brakes on IoT innovation in the energy sector. 

According to the latest research from Inmarsat, more than a third of energy companies lack the skills they need to successfully deploy IoT technology. That statistic applies at both management and delivery levels.

The conclusion then, is that a recruitment drive is needed if IoT technology is to bring about innovation, efficiency and productivity in the energy industry. The independent research commissioned by Inmarsat found that the level of unpreparedness was remarkably high, despite the fact that the vast majority of energy companies are planning IoT applications.

Read more: How can organizations close the IoT knowledge gap?

Energy industry is lacking IoT skills

On behalf of Inmarsat, market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 international energy companies. Specifically, they found that while 88 percent aim to deploy IoT technologies before the end of 2019, many currently lack the skills needed to do so effectively.

In fact, more than one third (35 percent) believe that they lack the management skills to fully utilize IoT, while 43 percent reported a skills shortage at a delivery level. The majority (53 percent) stated that they would benefit from additional skills at a strategic level to take full advantage of IoT.

These skills shortages were most prevalent in cyber security (54 percent) and technical support (49 percent). Respondents also pointed to analytical and data science as areas of high demand.

Read more: IoT needed to accelerate global food production, says Inmarsat

Energy companies without the required skills will fail to realize benefits of IoT

The complexity of the IoT stretches from installation and implementation to data analysis. A highly-skilled workforce is needed to get these systems in place, maintain them and make the best use of them.

Chuck Moseley, senior director for energy at Inmarsat Enterprise, said “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. 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.”

Crucially, the need for skills in IoT will increase in the coming years as more companies adopt emerging technologies. “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,” he said.

“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.”

Read more: Report: Humans need to develop new capabilities for post-AI world

The challenge for energy companies: upskill, attract or rely on partners

Moseley also highlighted the role that partners could play in addressing the deficiencies facing many energy companies.

“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.”