What Will Make or Break the 4th Industrial Revolution? Skills.

Are You Skilled Up for Digital Transformation?

The Industrial Revolution introduced machines to manufacturing, and everything changed. 

And now, a century-plus later, we’re entering the fourth industrial revolution – the complete digital transformation of a fully connected enterprise.

We have the technology. We have the vision. What we don’t have: enough people with skills in security, cloud, industrial communications and data analytics.

Whitepaper: An Evolving Global Workforce: Five Steps for Addressing Workforce Availability.

Are You a Visionary or a Doer? We Need Both

Any time you see transformation of this magnitude – the convergence of operational technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) enabled by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – there are visionaries leading the way.

To make that vision a reality, though, manufacturing companies all are pulling from the same (and right now, somewhat finite) talent pool.

The skills needed to support this transformation are not a surprise. We’ve been working for a long time to prepare tech professionals with analytics, big data, industrial networking, cloud and security skills. And we’ve focused on making manufacturing a place where these people want to work.  

Still, there’s more to do.

Video: See how the Rockwell Automation-sponsored exhibit featuring FANUC robots at Milwaukee's Discovery World is sparking students' interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

Prep Starts Early. Really Early

Reaching this future workforce starts in elementary school, through organizations like FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) that attract students to STEM studies. It continues by working with higher education and designing curriculum around IIoT-related skills. 

But it doesn’t stop there. We have people already in the workforce who need new skills so they can advance more quickly. That’s why we recently launched a new kind of boot camp to upskill veterans for high-paying, high advancement digital manufacturing jobs.

Developing the Right Curriculum at the Right Time

Instead of reacting to evolving needs, it’s important to have a seat at the development table for this curriculum. As the only manufacturing company at the IoT World Forum consortium, it’s a big responsibility to lead the effort – from the manufacturing side – to close the IT/OT gap.

With our strategic partner Cisco, we developed the Industrial Internet of Things curriculum. The specialized courses prepare people to design and oversee the complex network infrastructures required to take advantage of the IIoT and support digital transformation.

Blog: No One Can Close the Skills Gap Alone.

And Now, Culture

The final piece for success is a holistic approach to upskilling your organization. And that requires a culture that supports:  

  • Communication. Your OT teams needs to talk to IT teams (a good base for the conversation is the IIoT curriculum.)
  • Leadership. You need innovative leaders who are change agents for the digital transformation.
  • Change. Training just technical skills without organizational/culture changes will frustrate people – and might increase turnover in your most highly trained and highly skilled workforce.
  • Productivity. Your culture shift needs to include monitoring and analytics to ensure continued productivity in the future.
Dave Vasko
Posted August 21, 2017 By Dave Vasko, Director of Advanced Technology, Rockwell Automation
  • Contact:


The Rockwell Automation Blog helps our employees and guest bloggers share technology and industry-related trends with you. Be sure to sign up for bimonthly updates with the latest posts.