The Right Parts. The Right People?

The Internet of Things, or IOT, has a great deal of potential, but one thing is for certain—it’s expensive. Worldwide spending on IOT likely could be close to an astounding $775 billion in 2018, all part of race to interconnect factories and systems to boost both productivity and innovation. 

But for all the billions spent on hardware and software, more than half of corporate executives believe their digital transformation efforts are stalled because their company’s culture is an obstacle. “Industrial manufacturers who want to transformation their factories must examine their leaders, talent, and culture and ask, 'If there are barriers, how do I shift them to become enablers?'" says Prith Banerjee, a Korn Ferry senior client partner in the firm’s global industrial practice. 

Banerjee oversaw large digital transformations when he was a senior executive at Schneider Electric and ABB. In a new Korn Ferry report, “Digital and Internet of Things transformation for industrial companies,” Banerjee writes that firms will only get the benefits of IOT if they have the right culture, leadership and talent in place.

All this is easier said than done. Industrial firms, in particular, struggle with creating an environment that encourages the collaboration and rapid decision-making that the IOT-era needs. These firms have to adapt, Banerjee says. Workers must be engaged, inspired and free of roadblocks. That culture starts at the top. The successful firms that have successfully adapted IOT are driven by leaders who are agile, connected and disciplined, Banerjee says. 

But those leaders also go well beyond assigning tasks or even inspiring employees. Banerjee says these leaders must identify which of three types each of his or her employees fall into. Accelerators are employees who already have a lot of knowledge and the enthusiasm to try new ideas. Learners have to be brought up to speed on IOT and have the desire to acquire new skills and knowledge. 

Finally, there are the blockers, the workers who will throw curveballs in any transformation effort and should be removed. “It takes intention and persistence to drive a transformation. The benefits, however, are too substantial to ignore,” Banerjee says.