The Internet of Things is gradually entering the mainstream. Companies across all industries are identifying ways to benefit from IoT capabilities and creating new business models and integrated services that are adding value to their products.
Yet companies are finding that it often requires a lot of resources to build and implement an IoT solution –resources that some can’t spare. To really create value from IoT and make it possible for any size company to take advantage of it, there needs to be ways to accelerate the development process of IoT solutions – and make it easier.
This article is the first in a series of six on different approaches that will make IoT development more efficient. While each post is dedicated to one single approach, you will see how each influences the others and can generate significant results when applied in combination.
Let’s get started by looking at the current situation as well as some future trends. Everyone paying attention to studies covering IoT will have noticed that the market is growing at an unrelenting pace. IT research agency, International Data Corporation, forecasts that the worldwide market for IoT solutions will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.
Who is going to develop tomorrow’s IoT-enabled solutions and services?
Regardless of which study you look at, the numbers are extremely high. One must wonder who is going to engineer and develop all these technologies and solutions that will contribute to this immense growth.
While the numbers surrounding the IoT are skyrocketing, one number isn’t changing quite as fast: the number of resources available to develop all of those Internet-enabled solutions and services that will make homes, factories, vehicles and even the clothes and accessories you wear smarter.
A study conducted by VisionMobile shows that in 2014 we were looking at about 300,000 developers that were contributing to the IoT. However, the same study also reveals that by 2020 we will need 4.5 Million developers working on IoT-enabled solutions and services. Imagine a group as large as the entire population of Ireland devoted solely to developing IoT-enabled solutions and services.
IoT developers require a very diverse skill set that ranges from distributed programming, analyzing and interpreting big data, cloud computing to working with embedded systems and connectivity networks. Different programs like P-Tech in the US or the Software Campus in Germany are designed to train and prepare high school and college students to meet the specific skill sets required by employers in high-growth industries like IT. While these programs are already showing great results, they most likely will not be able to close the gap between available and required resources within the next five years.
Additionally, the race to hire IoT and big data talent is challenging and companies are struggling to get skilled people on board.
The way we develop IoT solutions needs to change
While these trends and numbers might be startling at first, they can be addressed simply by changing the way we develop IoT solutions. Building an IoT solution is a complex process that involves many different components such as cloud technologies, embedded systems, services, connectivity networks, products, and more. Each requires its own set of capabilities and expertise.
Overlooking the complexity, many companies still choose to start from scratch and do it all in house, and this ends up exhausting available resources before they are able to create measurable results.
In order for companies to create value from and take advantage of the IoT and still create a positive ROI, we will need to accelerate the development process, make it easier to manage, and establish accessible ways for companies to cooperate and enable them to share resources.
One solution for solving this dilemma is IoT platforms. They not only support the communication with heterogeneous devices over heterogeneous networks but also offer the tools and elements, such as data management and storage systems, rules engines, and many other things needed to develop IoT solutions. IoT platforms can significantly reduce the time and effort it takes to build IoT solutions.
However, not all IoT platforms are created equal. Look for an IoT platform that provides the tools to connect devices, business systems, and cloud services, as well as operational assets to build and run entire IoT applications much faster than any alternate approach.
Being able to develop and deploy IoT solutions faster is a tremendous increase in efficiency. However, there are still other pieces necessary in order to create IoT solutions that meet the requirements of all those different industries, companies, and people.
So, how are we going to fill in those pieces, while making it as easy as possible for users to build IoT solutions? More about that in my next installment.