Internet of things: Impact on learning and knowledge management

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December 22, 2014 12:15 AM

Internet of Things (IoT) is being viewed as the next big disruptor that would change the way businesses are transacted...

Internet of Things (IoT) is being viewed as the next big disruptor that would change the way businesses are transacted, customer needs are identified and serviced. The IoT refers to communication between ‘things’ containing embedded technology connected via wireless networks without the need for human interfaces. It is important to note that the number of objects connected to the Internet—including smartphones has already exceeded the number of people on earth. According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion wireless devices connected to the Internet by 2020.

We are experiencing an explosive growth of connected ‘things’, considering that in 2009 that number was less than 1 billion devices. While the proliferation of smartphones contributed a great deal in building the momentum for Internet of Things, what we are going to experience is more and more ‘smart things’. The washing machine being able to do its job of washing clothes when the electricity costs are likely to be low based on the information the grid provides or the air conditioner getting switched on automatically based on the signal received from the car you may be driving are just a few examples of how connected objects and systems could transform the many dimensions of our life. We are going to be encircled with smart cities, smart communities, smart household gadgets, smart healthcare systems and innumerable other smart and connected objects. This transformative phenomenon calls for an understanding of how learning and knowledge assimilation would have to adapt in the corporate context.

Internet of Things in principle is designed for functioning without the human interface. So where does human element come into the picture? Internet of Things and the resultant data has the potential to make the human interfaces smarter. The traditional learning  approach of having a predetermined content and pedagogy for all learners is slowly getting augmented with customised content and self-paced learning through online methods. The age of Internet of Things will facilitate in identifying the real time requirements of service engineers at the site to perform certain jobs on the equipments and serving up just-in-time and just what is needed to equip them with the finetuned and near fail proof inputs to sharpen their efficiency at the site.

Thus the learning management system and the knowledge management system would have to be get hooked to IoT and get smart at analysing the huge amount of data that would be possible to access and with analytics understand the key focus areas of training and development required to be customised for each individual. Further role specific such data could be compared with global standards and benchmarks and keep pushing the bar for the individual wherever they may be located to get them on par with the best in the world.

Knowledge management (KM) systems would have to be geared more and more for real time knowledge updation. Customers buying patterns and the usage trends of equipments will come together to provide new insights for marketing and product development teams and KM specialists have the opportunity to synthesise both the data and arrive at new knowledge. Internet of Things and SMAC (social media, mobility, analytics and cloud) are forcing businesses to rethink their goals and how value is created. Businesses have to balance their goal of ‘reliability’ and move towards becoming  ‘agile’ and value creation is no longer through price performance alone but will happen by focussing on revenue generation by  customer experience and brand building.

Sensors and embedded technology enabling transmission of real time data through wireless networks will lead to co creation of new real time knowledge with customers and vendors on a regular basis. The moot point all the commonly owned data is likely to be accessible by all the stakeholders but the advantage would go the firm which has the ability to interpret the data and convert it into real time knowledge which can be put to use for competitive advantage. Opportunities for innovation by better understanding of product usage, performance and customer experience will help create opportunities for creating and leveraging collaborative innovation platforms with customers and vendors to spot, nurture and fructify innovation ideas.

In the changing world led by Internet of Things and Big Data, knowledge needs of individuals will get redefined. L&D functions have to get equipped with capabilities to deal with data, machine interface and the threats of the possibilities of machine intelligence surpassing human intelligence by rethinking methods and tools for making the talent pool get to interpret system intelligence such that human intelligence becomes even more sharper. Thus L&D teams will see a shift in their roles from being facilitators to coaches to data  based interpretation of training needs and  profiling of  employees.

The writer is CEO, Global

Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company

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