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Internet of Things and Agile

Every day, hour and minute, devices are becoming connected. The Internet of Things (IoT) has gone from a buzzword to a tangible and quickly advancing movement in the world of IT. Furthermore, a report cited by the MIT Technology Review estimates that by 2020, the number of connected “things” will reach nearly 30 billion.

In fact, organizations across the globe are looking to leverage the power of the IoT revolution for their products, causing major shifts in the way both hardware and software for connected devices are being developed and released.

  • The challenges

While there are many benefits to the IoT and the way it is changing the world of embedded systems, it is also shifting the focus of product development. Consumer behavior and expectations are changing, and they not only expect more, but they are coming to expect more, faster.

Consumers have an expectation of frequent product releases and feature upgrades, with great user experience and this expectation puts a big pressure on both the product design and the support system behind it.

Moreover, if, in the past, the development process stopped with deployment, with IoT the growing expectation for post-deployment content and updates is increasing. This is why companies now need enhanced change and management solutions while focusing on testing a greater development cycle.

  • The solution

The best solution to these challenges presented by the Internet of Things is the implementation of agile development methodologies. While serial and waterfall methods have been widely used for decades, those methodologies are proving to be inefficient when it comes to IoT.

Agile methodologies and continuous delivery, on the other hand, are very well equipped for dealing with the demands of the connected device. With agile, frequent updates are basically a requirement, satisfying the end user’s desire for a constantly updated device, the developer’s need for a manageable development schedule, and the business requirements to respond quickly to market needs.

Agile methods also support the use of application release automation. Many tests that are required for security purposes in IoT can be automated, leading to a reduced risk of security flaws in the end product. Also, by automating updates, developers will have more time to create new features and functions for their products.

In the past, engineers and developers worked in silos with different teams, focusing on very specific products or functions. With IoT, the practice of separating teams or functions is no longer profitable, because consumer expectations are fueling the need for more communication between project teams. The agile methodology truly focuses on collaboration between teams. By utilizing the power of newly available tools (provisioning, manipulating, and debugging systems virtually) teams are able to collaborate on products in completely new ways. This results in shorter lead times, faster overall development efficiency, and more product updates and releases.

In the next few years, we can expect that the transition to the Internet of Things will continue to speed up. This is why I personally believe that companies should look to implement agile methodologies into their teams in order to fully take advantage of what it has to offer.

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