How IoT & Digital Transformation Impacts Technician Recruiting & Training?

Dear Scott

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How does IoT and digital transformation impact the type of technician skills we should be recruiting and training for?

Scott's Answer:

I participate in various field service and division leadership meetings around the country and the skilled technician is fast becoming the biggest barrier to improving service margins. Many companies are creating their own apprenticeship programs and spending more money on training than ever before. All that being said, there is also a generational change occurring that is causing a shift in the type of technicians we recruit. Gen. X is on the way out and Gen Y and Millennials are bringing in different expectations for technology investment by companies.

The Generation X technicians are retiring and taking with them the knowledge of “how things work” which was necessary prior to integrated circuits and microprocessors. For instance, a technician needed to understand what made a motor spin in order to troubleshoot it. Today, inverters can compensate for losses and motors are, in most cases, disposable. Generation X technicians typically, due to their in-depth experience, don’t like to take advice from online systems typically found in IoT based service applications and aren’t accustomed to asking for help via online apps and IoT applications.

As Generation Y and Millennials fill the technician ranks, we see that they don’t necessarily want to know how something works. In many cases they want to be able to fix the problem so they can move onto the next thing. Troubleshooting circuits has become a thing of the past as the hourly cost of the technician outweighs the cost of the circuit board. The millennial workforce comes in with different life experiences and much different expectations. The millennial workforce expects a robust digital platform with connected apps that give them the answer as quickly as Siri or Alexa.

Depending on the nature of a company’s service business, the solution to the type of technician is not easy and may actually require segmentation of work types. For instance, you may need to recruit for strictly preventative maintenance technicians to perform “clean and shine” types of work while recruiting a gamer type (Xbox, Playstation, etc) who can think quickly to troubleshoot break-fix work in high volume. If you hire a “gamer”, they will become bored with clean and shine work and may not stay long.

Digital transformation and IoT bring a lot to the table and, as many IoT applications evolve into providing artificial intelligence (AI) directly to the technician, it is important to have a good change management approach that allows training to neutralize the need for a segmented workforce. Augmented reality (AR) applications are a great way of providing just-in-time training that is relevant to the job at hand. Progressive companies now have senior vice presidents of change management who monitor the culture of the company, the technology changes and structure programs to transition or transform the company. Digital transformation, IoT, AI should be making life easier but the generational changes in the workforce require a well thought out change management approach coupled with AR applications to recruit and retain a skilled workforce.

About Scott

Scott is a transformative global business leader with extensive international experience at the C-Level who strategically takes companies to the next level. Scott’s most recent IoT implementation was at Thyssenkrupp Elevator with over 60,000 connected assets in the U.S. A natural change agent, he has been tapped repeatedly for turn-around, start-up, or digital transformation situations where complex change management leadership is required.

Scott is the CEO/President of Transformational Strategies LLC, a company that specializes in strategy development and deployment in IoT with a specific focus on field service management applications. Scott has maintained a technology edge and is recognized for his thought leadership in cross-industry IoT and field service management conferences in North America over the past several years. This extends to through various speaking engagements and authorship in top technology publications such as Field Service Technologies online, CIO Review, and CIO Assessment publications.

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