Companies across all industries are identifying ways to benefit from the Internet of Things. While most companies are convinced that the IoT can generate opportunities for their organization, many are left wondering how to create a positive ROI. Unless the right tools and technologies are available, developing IoT solutions can be extremely resource intensive. This fact is even more disconcerting when looking at the scarcity of IoT skills in the workforce. There is a big gap between available and required IoT talent to develop not only today’s, but especially tomorrow’s IoT solutions.
This is the second installment in a series of six on different approaches that will make IoT development more efficient. In my previous installment, I talked about how IoT platforms can help organizations build IoT solutions more efficiently. However, there are other pieces – namely compatible hardware, extensions, integrations into 3rd party systems, apps, etc. – necessary to create IoT solutions that meet the requirements of different industries, companies and people.
Following the mobile industry’s approach of user generated innovation
The question we need to address is: how are we going to fill in those pieces, while making it as easy and cost-effective as possible for companies and developers to build IoT solutions? One solution to this problem lies in the power of the ecosystem. The power of an ecosystem is demonstrated best by taking a closer look at the smartphone industry.
With the release of the iPhone in 2007, the mobile phone industry underwent a major change. Mobile phones, whose functionality was up to then mostly limited to making calls or sending text messages, transitioned to be smart devices with features similar to those of a personal computer. More disrupting however was the way in which mobile phone manufacturers developed the content for these phones, which ended up changing the business model for an entire industry. The key to it was to leverage the power of the ecosystem to extend the value of the mobile phone (i.e. the platform).
An ecosystem of partners and developers
As smartphones took over the mobile phone market, apps became commonplace. Not only did apps make it suddenly possible to configure a phone to anyone’s individual needs, they ended up adding incredible value to the core functionality of the underlying smartphone platform.
However, the apps were not necessarily developed by the smartphone manufacturer or creator of the smartphone’s operating system. In fact, most of them were developed by an ecosystem of partners and developers. A large part of the innovation in the smartphone industry was – and still is – created in a joint effort.
Adoption exceeded everyone’s expectations as user needs were not only addressed by one single company, but instead by an entire ecosystem that was capable of handling this ever-growing demand.
The example of the smartphone ecosystem certainly applies to the IoT as well. Ecosystems have the ability to extend and enhance existing solutions, offering developers more out of the box functionality. This way, companies can leverage existing components provided by the ecosystem instead of spending their resources on building all those separate components in-house.
There are two major benefits to this approach. First, it is much more efficient and second, it allows each partner in the ecosystem to focus on what they can do best, thus yielding higher quality IoT solutions as the end result.
Using an IoT platform and leveraging existing, best in breed technology in the IoT ecosystem at the same time, will help companies get their IoT solution delivered in less time and cut their development costs to help realize a greater ROI.
In my next installment, I’ll talk about the distributed nature of IoT apps, and how extensibility plays a major role in developing IoT solutions.