IoT is becoming ubiquitous, gaining traction in industries as varied as building contractor services and commercial cleaning.  According to Juniper Research, the number of connected devices will triple within the next five years, rising from 13.4 billion today to 38.5 billion by 2020  – companies are learning that the tools necessary to maximize the power of IoT are no longer concentrated with just a small group of employees.

Training a broader swath of employees to understand how to use IoT can yield big gains in efficiency, efficacy and security. Here are some tips on IoT training:

1. Give them the whole picture. Employees do best when they see how a process like IoT fits into the complete function rather than approaching it from a “need to know” perspective. Sure, your soap dispensers might have sensors, but what does that mean? Help them connect the dots to how IoT improves the company’s safety, customer serviceproductivity and efficiency.

2. Emphasize security. A huge concern over IoT is the possibility of security leaks. And while consumers worry about their own privacy being compromised, companies have a different concern: that their technology, systems and processes are more visible because there is so much data on the network. Employees might be concerned about privacy risks from companies tracking their location and schedules. Through every portion of your training, emphasize the importance of security. That means discussing how data is being used and for what purpose.

3. Help them understand their data. Rather than manual checks, each department will now receive a stream of data that is related to the work they do, and employees need to understand how to interpret it. Training needs to cover which data to attend to, and then articulate the next step in the flow – the “if this, then that” —  so employees are not only taking meaning from the data but applying it to the functions where it’s needed. A key part of IoT data collection is ensuring that the appropriate triggers are set up so that employees are alerted to events that require their attention.

4. Transition service providers to react in real-time based on needs, rather than scheduled services. Field service is changing – for the better. No longer will customer call outs occur on a scheduled time frame, but rather when maintenance is truly needed, which increases productivity by eliminating down time and avoiding unnecessary customer visits. The trick is to channel the IoT data so that you know about the problem – even before your customer. That requires data on what events require a service call, and the triggers that are likely to be precursors.

5. Make sure they understand they’re being monitored—and that’s a good thing! Do your employees worry that “Big Brother” is watching them? Yes, companies can now track and measure everything from the routes taken by drivers to the number of manufacturing components handled. But this data, when used in aggregate, can monitor trends and improve all-around performance. Maybe one production line is slowed every Monday because product doesn’t ship in time, or there is one fewer worker scheduled. Maybe, like UPS is famous for, the routes your drivers take can be streamlined for fewer hours behind the wheel. Concrete data, rather than anecdotal evidence, can pinpoint areas where job conditions can be improved. And don’t overlook the opportunities for recognition that can be awarded to employees who demonstrate their hard work ethic day in and day out, and who value credit for a job well done.

Successful companies know that ongoing training is an important part of everything they do, and IoT endeavors should come under that umbrella. In many ways, IoT might add a new layer of complexity to their functions, so it’s vital to train employees on the how and the why to ensure you receive the best results for your IoT efforts.

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Carl Krupitzer

Carl is CEO and co-founder of ThingLogix

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