How Developers can Prepare for the Industrial Internet of Things

More than 5.5 million new things connect to the Internet everyday, with 6.4 billion connected already. General Electric kicked off its report and call to developers “3 Reasons to Develop for the Industrial Internet of Things” with some weighty numbers. Gartner adds to this weight saying that by 2020 there will be more than 25 billion connected devices generating about $263 billion in revenue.

Of course, this big money won’t be in the things that are maintaining our 70-degree room temp or counting our steps. These inconceivable budgets are going to come from Fortune 100s and particularly governments investing in the infrastructure of smart cities. Called Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet of Things, it is “a network of physical objects imbued with information and communications technologies,” wrote Chunka Mui on Forbes. this is where the future of technology, and really our world as we know it, is going.

In fact to tout just one more mind-blowing number, GE has spending on the Industrial Internet of Things reaching half a trillion (yes with a T) in less than four years.

But as big business is doubling down on this bet, does that mean that we’ll all be automated out of jobs or will the developer become in greater demand than ever? This piece talks about just where computer engineering will grow over the next couple years and what developers can do to get the most out of our increasingly connected world.

The API is the Backbone of the Internet of Things

We can go on and on with numbers — and there are a lot — but what does it matter to an everyday developer? To devops or sysadmins? Testing? Well, if you work with the application programming interface (and if you’re reading this you probably do), beyond the dollar signs, there is one more staggering number you should be thinking about:

McKinsey finds that forty percent of the whole value of IoT hinges on its interoperability.

For the IoT to reach its full potential, privacy and security concerns will have to be addressed, but they won’t even matter if the devices can’t even connect. That leaves the API as the driving force of the Internet of Things revolution, which leaves limitless opportunities for you the developer.

“I wanna know with 100 percent certainty when I say a device goes on, it goes on. When you think of the hierarchy of needs, security is great but doesn’t mean anything if I can’t get it to function properly,” Brian Knopf, head of BRK Security told me in an interview last year.

It’ll be API testing that will stave off the hugely costly recalls that will come if these things simply fail to connect. API testing automation will have to be combined with manual testing to check if that light really turned on and if it continues to turn on only when it’s supposed to.

But that doesn’t mean that the API will be making headlines. If it does its job right, it will be the silent partner, enabling magic behind the scenes. That means the API developer will have a load of influence, but without the fame.

Is the Internet of Things Really Just an Aspect of the Data Economy?

Yeah, yeah, we know there’s an app for that. But the Internet of Things will raise demand again for more and more apps — particularly in the industrial and business spheres — to cultivate all the data all these devices are gathering. And B2B is where the money is. Currently, only about 11 percent of mobile app developers work on professional apps, but those are the ones that according to Infoworld are on average earning $5,000 more a month than their consumer counterparts.

When these digital ecosystems and the infrastructure they will have been built on finally mature, the developers in Industry 4.0 will gain access to multiple revenue streams, from the tech companies and the solutions providers to the municipalities and local businesses.

In fact, McKinsey predicts that B2B apps for municipalities will be responsible for 70 percent of the IoT value for citizens. You as a developer have more ability than ever to make an impact on your community.

Jennifer Riggins Writer, marketer and luddite in a technical world. Obsessed with helping tech and startups sell their value to us laypeople, improve efficiency, management practices, and message. Learning something new and laughing every single day.

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vasq0123

Fantastic article! As a developer with experience in 2nd generation enterprise app dev (e.g., cloud / SaaS) and/or mobile app development, another key to understand the opportunity industrial IoT presents is to go beyond the hype and get smarter about the entire stack, from Things being Connected to how the data is being Collected and the software used to Learn insights from the collected data to what do you Do now differently across a number of industries (e.g., agriculture, healthcare, water, mining, etc).

Put another way, if “ultimately, it’s going to take the developer community to build the next app economy – the industrial app economy – where changing the world is at our fingertips” (as quoted from GE), developers need to go a level deeper in understanding what industrial IoT is all about.

A great resource is a new book on industrial IoT called Precision from Timothy Chou, which has GE's head of industrial IoT Bill Ruh as the author of the Foreword. Learn more at http://www.crowdstory.com/precision.

Also consider reading this Linkedin Pulse article if you'd like to get a feel for how different the parameters change going from developing 2nd generation enterprise apps to developing for this new 3rd generation: Things are NOT People. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/things-people-vince-vasquez