Navigating the world of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices as a developer can be overwhelming. With thousands of unique products, hundreds of disparate communication protocols, and millions of promising use-cases, a vast universe of possibilities awaits. The missing link between all of these elements is the software. But what can the app developer build that’ll be useful and gain traction in a connected ecosystem approaching 30 billion devices1 by 2020?With the right knowledge, direction, and tools, app developers can journey through the haze of vague buzzwords and marketing lingo to build truly useful and profitable IoT products.
Frequently, customers use software that addresses industry demand – but in reality, are frustrating to use and a hindrance to productivity. Those who have experienced this problem, in turn, have the knowledge to build the most capable and productive solutions. One who has never used a screwdriver cannot build a drill. Those with a surplus of industry knowledge and experience build the best products.
Before beginning any software development project in IoT, it’s important to reach out to the operational technologists (OT) who’ll need to use the software every day. Bridging the gap between IT and OT will make the final IoT product useful.
Problems to Solve
A solution isn’t a solution unless it solves a problem. Ask the following questions before beginning development:
- Are there competitors to this software? If so, why should a potential customer choose this one?
- Does the value provided by this software outweigh its costs?
- Is this software vendor-agnostic, allowing the capture of the entire market, or does it rely on a particular software and hardware stack? Do competitive solutions have similar requirements?
- Does this software scale with the customer’s business?
- Is the software flexible enough to provide a solution for a variety of problems, or is it rigid?
The solutions that gain the most traction solve unique problems not addressed by other products in the same price range, while also having room to expand to solve other problems to increase value and the customer base over time.
There’s no magic bullet to developing like an experienced professional. Years of practice in software development with diverse hardware and software cannot be gained in a pinch.
However, there’s much you can do to increase your knowledge base and experience level with IoT:
- Learn how to use standard communication protocols in IoT such as MQTT and AMQP
- Study IoT solutions deployed by other developers and understanding the use-cases
- Complete do-it-yourself (DIY) IoT hobbyist projects to get practice around IoT
- Participate in developer events and hackathons focused around IoT
Practice is the only route to expertise, and is available in abundance in environments such as hackathons. Hackathons provide a rare opportunity to cooperate on development teams and execute solutions while sharing ideas.
The Right Tools
To get started, an app developer needs the right tools for success. This begins by integrating with existing hardware and software – no app exists in a vacuum. For example, a fleet management solution could require many sensors, a remote data connection, and an IoT platform to operate it all with dashboards and device interoperability.
Or, an app developer could focus on creating their own platform to connect numerous disparate communication protocols, sensors, devices, and proprietary elements. To do this, you would need the right development toolkit and comprehension of the software and hardware stack.
The most important tool in an app developer’s toolkit is information. Tech Data’s Smart IoT Solutions team provides experienced consultation that enables you to create innovative solutions. With our help, you’ll find unmet demand and obtain the necessary tools and consultation to succeed.