Internet of Things (IoT) adoption is steadily increasing. The New Eclipse Foundation’s IoT Commercial Adoption Survey found that about 40 percent of industry leaders responding to the survey say that their organizations are using IoT solutions today, and 22 percent more plan to deploy IoT in the next two years. Additionally, the survey revealed that IoT investment will increase, with 40 percent of organizations planning to spend more on IoT solutions from 2020 to 2021.
Keith Pitt, CTO of Buildkite, shares his perspective on why IoT adoption is on the rise, where the top opportunities are, and how the increased demand will impact software developers.
What factors are contributing to an increase in IoT adoption?
Pitt: The barriers to entry for IoT development have lowered significantly over the past few years, and cost is one factor driving that. Just as it’s never been easier to get started on web or mobile application development, it’s never been easier or more cost-effective to start building custom hardware. For context, a developer can buy the hardware needed to build an IoT device for as little as $9 with an Arduino. Low cost is one of the factors helping to make IoT development accessible to every developer.
What impact will 5G have?
Pitt: Mass adoption of 5G is still a few years away. The biggest hurdles we have to face are telecom networks rolling it out for their customers and, because 5G takes more power to consume, better battery technology. When we solve those issues, 5G will change the game. One thing I think we’ll start seeing is IoT computation moving off the device and into data centers. Not only will this make IoT devices simpler and cheaper to build it will mean businesses can fix issues and roll out new features to their customers without requiring new hardware.
What opportunities is the increase in IoT adoption creating for software developers?
Pitt: I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the opportunity with IoT devices and computing at the edge. Developers have the opportunity to create the solutions that will power our connected future. There’s an opportunity to integrate IoT into almost every industry and vertical, and software developers will be the ones moving that progress forward.
Are there certain vertical markets that represent bigger growth opportunities?
Pitt: Whether you realize it or not, IoT is already ubiquitous — from public transportation to healthcare to food delivery. An area that I’m particularly excited about is making the home smarter, specifically around energy usage. If we can have IoT devices monitoring electricity usage in the home, we can be smarter about how we consume electricity. It’s easy to forget how much each appliance costs. Imagine a world where you could get a weekly report of all your devices that showed how much energy they consumed and how much money it cost to run them. Not only will smart monitoring help reduce power bills for families, but it will also help reduce how much fossil fuel we burn to create electricity and hopefully have an impact on climate change.
Are businesses prepared to manage this IoT boom and the resulting increase in data?
Pitt: The biggest obstacle I see is that developer tooling for IoT is lagging about ten years behind. There are fantastic tools for monitoring and testing web and mobile applications on the market today, but tooling for emerging areas like IoT/edge, 5G, and autonomous vehicles have yet to see the same boom. As the IoT space continues to evolve and create new unstructured data sources, companies need to invest in the right tools to help developer teams keep pace. I also expect more vendors to build out their IoT development offerings to meet this need.
What advice can you offer software developers regarding IoT adoption as they plan for 2021?
Pitt: The development environment — and our world at large — is growing more dispersed, yet more connected. My advice for developers is to invest in tools that let them seamlessly deliver software across any environment, from IoT devices to private or public cloud to embedded systems. A hybrid cloud and self-hosted agent approach is a great way to maintain scale and speed while keeping source code secure.