Among the many challenges hindering a broader adoption of IoT, experts will often mention a shortage of skilled developers with expertise in IoT technologies, resulting in a disconnection between people with domain knowledge and technical knowledge. Out of our experience as an IoT platform vendor, this has become a pressing issue for organizations seeking to implement IoT solutions. In this article, we will explore how low-code development can bridge the IoT skills gap.
Understanding Low-Code Development
Low-code development is an approach to software development that enables non-technical personnel to create applications using visual interfaces and predefined components with minimal coding. It allows users to create applications using drag-and-drop components and abstracts complex coding tasks, making it accessible to a wide range of users, including business analysts and domain experts. Basically, it opens the door of software development to a new range of innovators with limited programming skills. Moreover, the low-code movement also leads to accelerated development cycles, reduced development costs, and improved collaboration between technical and non-technical teams.
Let’s see how this applies to the development of smart solutions.
Low-Code for the Internet of Things
The low-code movement can significantly bridge the IoT skills gap by empowering non-technical personnel to develop IoT applications. The successful implementation of an IoT solution typically requires the interconnection of many IoT components and technologies. Until recently, this was usually done by technical specialists with the expertise and IT knowledge required to navigate their way through the technical complexity. Such programmers, data scientists and engineers are responsible for connecting the dots between the hardware, the connectivity layer and the cloud to transform the raw sensor data into formatted, usable IoT data for the final application.
But this is now changing thanks to the rise of low-code IoT platforms. These provide visual interfaces and drag-and-drop components that make it easy for non-technical personnel to create IoT applications without the need for extensive coding knowledge. This allows organizations to leverage the existing domain expertise of their workforce, such as business analysts or operations managers, to develop IoT applications tailored to their specific needs.
Low-code IoT platforms often come with a rich set of pre-built components, including device payload decoders, data connectors, and data visualization tools, that can be easily configured and integrated into IoT applications. This abstraction of complex coding tasks simplifies the development process and enables faster time-to-market for IoT solutions.
Organizations are now able to prototype and iterate on their IoT applications rapidly. This accelerates the learning phase during the PoC stage and ultimately increases the success rate of any new IoT venture.
Using low-code tools, we can reduce the number of projects that end up in the IoT project graveyard. IoT projects often involve cross-functional teams that include both technical and non-technical personnel. Low-code development platforms provide a common visual interface that enables collaboration between these teams, allowing them to work together seamlessly in developing IoT applications. This promotes better communication and understanding of requirements and reduces friction points, leading to more successful IoT projects.
Challenges in Low-Code Development
While low-code development has significant potential in bridging the IoT skills gap, there are also challenges that need to be addressed.
Training of non-technical personnel: While low-code development platforms are designed to be user-friendly, non-technical personnel still need to learn how to use these platforms effectively. Organizations must invest in training programs to empower their workforce with the necessary skills to develop IoT applications using low-code tools.
Balancing customization and standardization: Low-code IoT platforms balance customization and standardization. Organizations must strike the right balance to ensure that IoT applications developed using low code are tailored to their specific needs while adhering to industry standards and best practices.
Focus on business value generation:
While improved access to IoT development and reduced technical complexity may make it easier to explore new business ventures, ensuring that a real business case backs them is crucial. Pursuing IoT solutions solely because the technology allows it, rather than based on a real business need, can be risky and potentially costly. By prioritizing business value generation, companies can ensure that their IoT ventures are sustainable and aligned with their overall business objectives.
The Future of Low-code
The IoT skills gap has hindered the broader adoption of IoT technologies. The low-code movement offers a promising solution to bridge this gap by enabling non-technical personnel to develop IoT applications, simplifying the development process, accelerating time-to-market, and enhancing collaboration between technical and non-technical teams.
As the IoT ecosystem continues to evolve, low-code development is expected to play a significant role in democratizing IoT application development and driving innovation in the IoT space.
Obviously, there will always be scenarios where high-skilled developers are needed to extend the capabilities of low-code tools. As a result, a mixed approach combining no-code features with script-based components is likely to be the way forward for IoT platforms. This approach allows non-technical personnel to quickly create simple IoT applications, while high-skilled developers can still utilize script-based development to build more complex solutions.