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On Becoming an IoT Developer

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On Becoming an IoT Developer

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The Hackerthon challenge

Last week, Atomiton was be at a national Hackerthon event – the StanfordTreeHacks, giving challenges for the students to hack at a smart city IoT case. After some thoughtful debate within the team, we concluded the best way we can contribute to this event is to simulate a real-life IoT case at scale, and let the hackers use whatever tools or technologies they wish to solve the problem.

Drawing from our deployment experience in domains like Smart Cities, we simulated an operation with 2-3 types of sensors, a few thousands in number, sending 11.7 million events a day, and ask the hackers to create business logic on top of them.(Lots of fun! :)

In my view, the first and foremost challenge of IoT development is being able to envision what a scaled IoT application is like, followed by being able to access such an environment to build and test apps. And only after that, comes the question of what tools and technologies to use.

For a time, working on Raspberry Pi may have become the de facto emblem of IoT development, but I’d argue that the future IoT applications are yet to be imagined, and hence the future diversity of IoT developer community is also yet to emerge.

IoT developers – who are they and where are they?

We know there is massive demand: Vision Mobile predicts we'll have 1.5 million IoT developers by next year, tripling to 4.5 million by 2020.

We know there is heated aspirations: one in five mobile developers are already working in IoT. Another 49% plan to do so in the next 12 months, based on a survey by Evans Data Corp.

We also know that most of them have not self-identified or self-declared. Try finding "IoT developers" on LinkedIn and you will see few. Why? Now try searching for “IoT developer job description” on Google and you may get the answer. The IoT developer as a professional profile is not been defined.

Here is what I see how this new generation of future IoT developers will come into being:

The Enterprise Application Developer:

Bob, 39, married, has 2 sons; lives in Fremont, California. He is a lead engineer at a large company that creates industrial machines. Bob codes in Java and also knows C++. In the last few years of his career, he has been working on applications for utility companies handling Enterprise Asset Management. But since his company’s new focus on IoT, he starts to find himself leading projects such as Grid Automation. Bob never thought of himself as an “IoT developer”, but as a solid software engineer and good team leader, driven by business outcomes.

As Bob delves deep into Grid Automation, he starts to interact frequently with the energy management and control systems engineers, from whom he has a lot to learn about the world of hardware devices. After a few such projects, Bob starts to develop an expertise. He summarizes for his team members on how an enterprise application developer can become an IoT developer:

The Thing Developer:

Alice, 21, single; lives in Boston, just finished her Computer Science major at MIT. She belongs to the local Makers Club. She has been playing with Raspberry Pi since 2012, and created several novel applications such as Internet and light controlled curtains for homes. To Alice, IoT is what she does and what she’s going to do for her career. For internship she worked at a cool startup company which creates healthcare wearables – one of those types that is going to change the way healthcare is delivered by putting the power in consumer’s hands.

After college she got her dream job in a large technology company which is developing IoT platform and solutions, including Smart Supply Chain. It is from there that she realizes the IoT software which manages thousands of things is very different from the ones managing one or two gadgets. So she learns and blogs about how a “thing developer” can become an IoT developer:

What is a future IoT developer like?

Curiously, as I start from different persons, the IoT developer’s profile derived from that original character is also different. But wait, isn’t this the very exciting fact about IoT? The fact that we don’t have a fixed profile definition for an “IoT developer”, and that they are going to be as diverse as we have the types of things connected, is another proof that IoT is going to bring us unprecedented innovations to change the way we live and work.

You have noticed that I didn’t describe the mobile developer who became an IoT developer, nor were my stories above sufficient at all to capture the IoT diversity. What is your story of an IoT developer? I would invite everyone here to share what you see and what you predict...


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