With over 28 billion connected devices expected to go live by 2021, IoT is all set to unleash a major shake-up to the internet as we know it today. The coming IoT wave will drown all areas of Information Technology. Custom software development is no exception.
IoT Mandates a Change in Approach
Co-opting IoT to custom software development heralds a shift in approach. The traditional focus has been on the function of the app. IoT shifts the focus to the function of the “thing” controlled by the app. Software engineers require a solid understanding of the underlying technology driving the “thing,” as a prerequisite to building a mobile app.
Mobile app development co-opting IoT requires a departure from traditional mobile app development. The five general tiers for a standard IoT centered development are the device, gateway, data, analytics, and application. Unlike a standard app, IoT apps require a very tight integration with all these tiers.
For example, an application to control a hybrid Wi-Fi / LAN based ventilation control system may require collating data from real-time telemetry, GPS, weather data, and a host of other information from external third-party sources. The ZigBee communication protocol offers a viable gateway, and Flurry offers a viable analytic tool for the purpose. The best app is a hybrid iOS and Android app, co-opting all these technologies. An intuitive app also providing a user interface to leverage incoming information from the analytics tier, and present it to the user in a meaningful and actionable way.
IoT based mobile apps will also have to become highly adaptable, to succeed. For instance, if an app fails to connect to a new “thing” around it, it would soon become obsolete. The sheer number of such new “things” emerging by the day compounds the problem for the developer.
New skills come into play
The obvious impact of IoT integration is developers having to broaden their skill sets. Custom software developers need competency in various tools and services to connect, manage, analyze and secure IoT devices, and the related data.
Also, development of IoT products does not take place in a vacuum. IoT is closely integrated with other cutting-edge developments, such as edge computing, the blockchain, cloud services, Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning, wireless connectivity and protocols, and other technologies.
Implementing IoT and blockchain would improve accountability and security, enabling stakeholders to access and supply IoT data without the need for central control and management.
Implementing IoT in conjunction with Artificial Intelligence technology such as IBM Watson deepen customer relationships, and achieve operational excellence.
Custom software developers will have to widen their tech skills to cope with such integrations.
The IoT ecosystem is fragmented and diverse. Developers will require deep knowledge on connecting a variety of third-party platforms offering various IoT solutions. They would in most cases need to develop APIs on their own. Also, one-trick-pony developers or narrow specialties will soon become obsolete in an IoT dominated era.
Data Analysis will become even more important
IoT will raise the stakes of data analytics and quality assurance.Analyzing data from IoT and sensors would mean churning much more Big Data compared to the present levels. Such Big Data will have to be analyzed in a much faster way than before since the very existence of IoT depends on real-time analysis of such data. Custom software developers will have to take up the responsibility of data processing and storage, and also developing dashboards facilitating data analytics.
IoT will also necessitate new methodologies of quality assurance, to facilitate and maximize actionable data outcomes. Custom software development teams will have to work more closely with QA specialists and Project management teams, to achieve such ends. They will also have to work with data scientists, to deal with the increasing volumes of data.
IoT will unleash new security vulnerabilities
The power of IoT comes with the cost of new security threats. IoT will unleash new security vulnerabilities and raise the magnitude of existing crimes such as ransomware. Co-opting IoT to custom software will require developers to learn new ways of working with key protocols like DNS, and reimagining existing security policies
IoT will also deepen connectivity related threats since cybercriminals will have more endpoints to target. IoT involves deep integration with external products, from baby monitors to IP cameras. Each such connected device poses a risk, and make the network unpredictable and unstable. Software developers have a big challenge on their hands, to manage such unpredictability, and mitigate the risks. To overcome such threats, IoT will force building security as the core of every application.
IoT will require enhanced support
IoT products require quick and frequent updates, to work efficiently. Every IoT-based solution would require major software development services support inside the device, inside the network leveraging the technology, and through third party support. Software teams will have to tweak their skill sets and capabilities to facilitate such near-continuous support.
Custom software development teams would have to upgrade their supporting capabilities, to enable continuous delivery of software updates in the IoT replacement and the innovation cycle.
IoT solutions also require new customer-facing support, for a host of nascent situations, Such support relates to not just the deployed technology, but also the platform migrations. In today’s age of device fragmentation, such support will have to span device providers, networking, and third-party support.
The challenge for developers is compounded by the absence of established standards for IoT. The world of IoT is extremely fluid and fast-changing. Paradigms are only evolving. As it is the case with every emerging technology, there will invariably be many false starts and abject failures. Developers would have broken new ground and overcome several new challenges, for which solutions may not be readily available. They would also have to overcome connectivity issues.
Developers need to be resilient to take failure in their strides, unlearn quickly, and rebound with a newer concept, in double-quick time. For software companies, this means constant training and retraining of their development team. In a highly competitive environment, they would have to do all this fast, to gain the early-mover advantage.