Humans Front and Center at the Connected Manufacturing Forum

Last week, members of our IoT Security Market Unit attended the Connected Manufacturing Forum in Austin, Texas. The two-day event focused on how to move the dial around Industry 4.0, and how to go from ideas to implementation. Of course, the event would not have been complete without talks on AI & ML, Big Data, RPA (robotic process automation), 3D printing, cloud, and digital twins.

The most prominent topic was how the human is central to the Industry 4.0 transformation which manufacturing is currently undergoing.

  • Skills shortage – One of the keynote speakers mentioned a mean age of 53 for people employed in the manufacturing industry in the United States. To shift the labor force to a younger demographic, industries need to incent that demographic. The cybersecurity survey published by Irdeto last month further corroborates this shortage of expertise as a challenge faced by the connected industries. To counter that shortage, innovative solutions are constantly being launched to enable humans to be more productive, but will these solutions make up for the gap to be filled?
  • Corporate change management – Significant efforts must be made to ensure that employees are ready to leverage data-driven decision making. Data is ubiquitous, and it is enabling humans to focus on where they have the most added value. It is now expected that everyone who has access to this data can make the most of it. The relationships between humans, machines and processes must be reviewed to enable workers to be faster and better at their jobs, in a safe manner. Organizations, big and small, must also make sure to address the fact that younger generations feel engaged and motivated in other ways than their predecessors, having a huge impact on employee retention and satisfaction.

The event provided numerous networking opportunities with all attendees, speakers, and panelists from Johnson & Johnson, Airbus, GE Aviation, Arconic, Parsable, UTC, GEP, Atos, Avanade, LEGO Group Toys, Nestlé Purina, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Kohler Co., Ford Motor Company, Panasonic Automotive, Toyota Motor Corp., only to name a few. It was great to exchange with some of these executives and hear their thoughts around cybersecurity; it was also interesting to learn about the innovative ways they are coping with the current challenges faced in their respective roles.

As a final note, Irdeto has long been focused on the issue of human centric automation with the vast majority of our engineering effort this past year has going into how to make the application of software security more human centric. As a matter of fact, our colleagues Mark Hearn and Dave Belt will be speaking at Black Hat USA about this exact topic. Our recent survey found that only 7% of organizations have everything they need to tackle cybersecurity. Plus, 46% stated that their organization needs additional internal expertise/skills to address all aspects of cybersecurity. The cybersecurity skills shortage is definitely a reality, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait until the right candidate comes your way. There are options available for you.