Tag Archives: IoT

Developer Outreach Programs: Are They Evolving (again)?

Any talk of evolution needs to be based in an origin story. If we look back to the history of developer relationship management, it may have all started in 1964 with IBM encouraging their third party programmers to build business applications on the System/360. Hewlett-Packard, Fairchild and Atari drove developers to their chips in the 1970s. Microsoft & Apple drove developers to PCs in the 1980s and beyond. Sun and Oracle to UNIX and data over internet protocol in the 1990s. After these, Paypal and Amazon drove online payments and shopping.

With the advent of feature phones we had developer relations programs for the carriers like Sprint, AT&T and Verizon and the first app stores like HandSpring and Getjar. With the arrival of smartphones and app ecosystems (iTunes, Google Play, Facebook), marketing to developers and the role of the Developer Evangelist evolved again around 10 years ago. Developer programs are always evolving, and have been for the last 50 years.

Is the developer relations world evolving again?

How will the Internet of Things, robotics, 3D printing, beacons, GE’s Industrial Internet, GE’s Predix and leaders in precision agriculture like John Deere change the way we do developer marketing? It’s not like the world of third-party, long-tail developers has jet engines, locomotives, MRI scanners, combine harvesters and digitally controlled row planters to “hack” against.

I imagine we will see inanimate objects in the future connected to the Internet in ways we can not predict, imagine or understand today.


(Image of and from Ideum Colossus table)

Consider the table you are working at today. Is there any reason why it should be connected to the Internet? Will your conference table become a “thing,” in the Internet of Things? Are we going to see more “smart tables?” Perhaps. A high-end conference table could connect to the Internet. It could tell the temperature, location, levelness, stability, and monitor proper (or improper) usage. Perhaps it might count the number of meeting participants by body temperature. It might also have built in cell phone chargers, like those from Duracell at Starbucks. It might also have beacon technology, and record the ID from every device (phone, tablet, laptop, watch, wearable) placed on the table or nearby. It might keep attendance records in the workplace, a university or library. Your table might, in the future, report this information to its owner and perhaps in aggregate form to its manufacturer. It is interesting to me that our products in the future will (with our permission) maintain their digital conversations with their manufacturer long after we purchase them. These digital conversations already take place with your smart phone, laptop and car. How will permissions and privacy play into this new world? Will future world devices, even tables, be able to inform their manufacturers when they are not being used properly?

How will the Internet of Things and the industrial Internet help us regarding energy use and climate change? Will smart devices use energy in smarter ways? Will a room only be cooled when the table detects occupant temperature? Or will tables talk to one another and to the HVAC system to more efficiently heat and cool buildings?
Every new device connected to the internet will need developers to facilitate integration, build rich content and capabilities. What is the new playbook? Are there tried and true strategies that still work, or has the game changed so much that the old plays don’t work? Is your developer program falling asleep as the market is changing?

We help companies find their target developers. It’s an exciting changing world.

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Enterprise Wearables: Developer Market Opportunity

Enterprise wearables present an interesting developer market opportunity. This week’s Economist article,The Wear, Why and How,” this section stood out:

“The next stage in wearables’ development may be led by business users. It is still early days. “Everything I am seeing is trials,” says Arnie Lund, a senior engineer at General Electric. Yet wearable devices would be useful in the workplace in all sorts of ways. … Consumers may benefit in the end, but the buyers of the wearable devices will be businesses.

     For companies the cost of kitting out their staff with smartwear is less of a problem than building the computer systems needed to support such devices and process their data. This can cost $500,000 or more for each application, says Dave Miller of Covisint, a technology firm.”

Two interesting points around the wearable: First, the article suggests, rightly, that the biggest growth in wearables will come from the enterprise (“business users”). We’ve seen this in so many segments, including mobile. The buzz, the news coverage and the startups tend to focus around consumer applications. So while those applications are interesting and worthwhile, opportunity lies in the enterprise.

Second, check out the bold section of the quote above: it’s the computer systems that will cost more — and take more time — than the actual distribution and maintenance of devices. As more devices and sensors infiltrate the enterprise, the software development needs will increase dramatically. As we alluded to in this recent Quick Take, the devices and sensors are only the most visible part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Software and data — mostly cloud-based — are just as essential.

And that’s the key takeaway: the visible “wearable” is only the tip of the iceberg. The business users are just beginning, and, in turn, developers will fill huge software needs for those uses. The business opportunity for those providing developers with services and products is similar in potential. How can your offering serve this nascent need?

Four Keys to Understanding IoT (Internet of Things) Trends

This week’s Mobile World Congress event re-highlights The Internet of Things (IoT). But is it a buzzword, a trend, or just hype? Well, the phrase is all three of those things. But there are some keys to understanding that any technology marketer, or technologist, should agree on. Understanding these four keys will help with planning and perspective.

First, “the Internet of Things” is a horrible name for what’s really going on. What’s going on? As Marc Canter put it, it’s “the culmination of all modern technology that is finally uniting the online technological world and the real world.” Another way to put it – it’s combining sensors that tell you something about the world with data storage in the cloud … all of it tied together with software. So if we accept that “IoT” means sensors, data and software, well, then we can live with the poor naming. (It’s worth reading the rest of Canter’s piece in TechCrunch.)

Second, Lower-cost prototyping systems can easily be made from boards like the Arduino or Raspberry Pi, saving thousands of dollars (euros, pounds, etc.) and months of time in smart sensor and smart device creation. We recall talking to an M2M-focused friend a few years ago who was stymied in bringing hardware and software developers on board because of the prohibitive cost of custom prototype boards. After our conversation, she piloted a program to use Arduino boards with a simple, custom sub-board to serve their needs inexpensively and quickly. This is exactly what will drive the IoT future: these easy-to-use and inexpensive computing devices — not only innovated on by hobbyists, but used by professional developers to solve their real business and real-world needs.

Third, we have to rise our heads above the current IoT buzzword/marketing din and keep an eye on the overall trends. Yes, “IoT” is an unfortunate marketing term that we see stuck on all kinds of useless items already.  (See our friend Jim Louderback’s great piece on the “Internet of Crap.”) Interoperability is increasing, although still not ideal. But overall, the technology is evolving quickly, and it’s exciting to watch. We may not know what’s coming, but watching the overall trends is fun.

Fourth, and related to the last one, is the importance of understanding that IoT is more than activity tracking wearables, connected/smart home and connected car solutions. The IoT means business solutions that clarify and illuminate physical and data trends. It means the potential for technology to supplement and enhance our lives and work. And it means we could soon see devices that streamline our day — not constantly require rebooting, reconnecting or updates.

PS: There’s a cool “vision” video and page from Microsoft that you may enjoy perusing if you’re interested in seeing what this even-more-connected future may entail.