The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most important, if not the most important topic of R&D units throughout the global industrial landscape. It is part of the new industrial revolution known as Industry 4.0, and its prime focus is to offer greater reliability, flexibility and security within industrial systems through connectivity.
As IoT is combination of various technologies, and focusses on the coordinated operation of multiple assets, it is impossible for traditional developers to adjust to the new reality without uplifting their knowledgebase.
The internet is more complex than we think it is. We use it so often and so continuously that at times we forget all about the operations performed at the backend necessary to keep us online. The internet may be easy to use at the client-end but at the developer’s end, it is no less than a nightmare. Firstly, it is nothing like developing programs over Ethernet connections, neither can it be called a scaled-up Ethernet network. In order to develop industrial IoT applications, one must be well-acquainted to all the ins and outs of the internet as if it was an entirely separate subject.
It is estimated that almost 80–90 percent of all data within an organization is unstructured. Typically, developers had trained themselves in the art of developing structured data applications using popular databases such as SQL. But IoT requires integration of every single piece of information that may come useful during final decision making. Shifting from structured data to unstructured one is analogous to moving from OOP to plain C code. A different mind-set is required, one that can only be developed by flexible minds compared to those who’ve been working on the same concept for decades.
Hardware Skills for Software Developers
The Internet of Things is such a vast field that no single programming language is enough to encapsulate it. Software developers must be acquainted with a number of languages such as low-level assembly for embedded systems and scripting languages for integration with web-apps. Furthermore, one would also need to know about the communication protocols in use, and make sure developed applications are in line with them.
But that’s not the end of it; software developers are also required to be sound in certain hardware skills. Even though they don’t need to go into great detail about a subject, they still have to keep their basics sharp. Electronics and control systems are most relevant to IoT developers as concepts from these fields would help them integrate their code with real-world components.
Software Skills for Hardware Developers
The hardware developer would be tasked with developing PCBs, selecting and integrating microprocessors and installing sensors and radio interfaces. But a hardware developer needs to be careful while selecting and installing these and consider the requirements of software developers, who would integrate these components.
Diving into higher level languages would certainly help as they have a comparatively reasonable learning curve. Furthermore, reading SoC reference manuals and understanding the machine-level working of components would also help speed-up the entire development process, adding cohesiveness to the entire team.
As the Internet of Things explodes on a global level, the IT professionals capable of meeting the newfound requirements would also face great demand. Certain skills which would be in great demand in the near future may be quantified as follows:
1. Security & Data Analytics
Massive amount of data would need to be analyzed, processed & protected as more devices gain interconnections.
2. Business Intelligence
The data collected from various devices would be useless until it is processed to actionable intelligence. Professionals with strong knowledge in data analysis would therefore be in high demand.
3. UI/UX Design
IoT would digitize assets of all shapes and sizes, and therefore obtaining efficient monitoring & control over them would require effective user interfaces.
4. Hardware Engineering
IoT devices would be vastly unpredictable ranging from tiny devices to complex remote computers. Understanding the range of requirements of these devices would push the demand for hardware design and implementation.
One of the most important skillset for IoT, Networking skills would be in high demand as more devices start communicating with each other. The need for reliable and secure communication along with knowledge of standard networking technologies would put networking professionals at great advantage.
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