Like many phenomena, the Internet of Things (IoT) is sweeping across the planet like a polar vortex, leaving businesses scurrying to prepare. The buzz is not so much about the here and now, but in the boundless potential it represents – and how to best tap it. So how do you prepare for a concept?
IoT Is Grounded In Mobility
When you remove the artifice, the IoT is grounded in the reality of a familiar craze: mobile. The IoT is a natural extension of mobility. But mobility is more than simply moving. It represents connectedness. Instead of connecting people to people, the focus is connecting people to objects. While most consider the IoT an entirely new beast, examine the central essence of it. We find the IoT so compelling because it enables people to connect, engage – and indeed control – their surroundings in entirely new ways, most notably, when on the go.
Because humans crave connection, it only follows that we should develop ways to remain connected to our “stuff” from afar. Goldman Sachs analyst, Simona Jankowski, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that the IoT is particularly meaningful for certain sectors, beginning with wearables and connected cars, and expanding to connected cities, industrial internet, transportation, oil and gas and healthcare. This begins to ground the conversation in concrete applications that can be developed to advance business objectives. In other words: ways to monetize the craze.
App Experiences Matter
Let’s face it, the IoT is only meaningful if there is business value. If oil rigs can boost efficiency because internal systems initiate repair crew requests before systems fail, THAT provides business value. If a washing machine can notify the owner that it requires more detergent, THAT provides a valuable competitive differentiation that draws customers. Monetizing the IoT is what will set businesses apart, and application developers are at the forefront of this business-technology junction.
While many in business can envision beneficial systems, only developers can make them happen. This makes application developers the crucial link needed to realize IoT potential. They are the ones who must take the IoT concept, capture its essence, apply it to actual business scenarios, and then deliver results.
As aptly put by Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOM, “The internet of things needs developers. And developers need tools.” Today’s development solutions need to be as all-encompassing and bold as the IoT itself, because the essence of its value is seamless integration and enthusiastic adoption. Its very nature celebrates customisation and choice, so it only follows, that businesses can only realise long term benefits if their applications are widely adopted. Developers are at the core of this, and it starts with building for many OSs, devices and frameworks simultaneously. For the IoT to truly thrive, and for businesses to optimise the value of development time investments, each application must be available to as many as people possible from day one.
Developers Will Fuel IoT
Given this, developers are well served using flexible platforms that enable development for, and deployment to, multiple platforms via their IDE of choice. Choice and the ability to leverage existing skills is essential, lest we march down another siloed path where platform-specific tools make integration unrealistic.
Although many development platforms exist, and developers can mix and match what works for them, its best for developers to choose a platform that handles the entire app development journey. This enables developers to work online via web or cloud interfaces, avoiding endless SDK downloads and the learning curve that accompanies coding in a new language. Further, seamless deployments enable timely updates so users always have the latest version possible. These are all features developers can harness, today, as they begin to develop for the IoT. To monetise an app, it needs to be used, and the best way to deliver a superior user experience is to code one from the start. The right tool can make a huge difference, so companies overlook this at their peril.
Consumers, whether employees or customers, expect applications to perform as well as their personal favorites. This is all the more true for the IoT, where expectations for any new device will be cosmically high. Knowing this, developers need to create beautiful, memorable experiences that account for the form factor, environment and user impatience. Those that do will have loyal users, paying customers and forge leadership of the new IoT frontier.