You don’t have to be a pessimistic person to claim that making hardware and software friends is not an easy task. That’s why building an IoT (Internet of things) solution may require a lot of effort, commitment, and legwork on your side.
You need to understand how exactly IoT development teams work, what their responsibilities are, and what kind of challenges they commonly face to hire IoT engineers with high levels of expertise. Ideally, software and hardware IoT teams effectively communicate, compliment each other’s roles, and even respond to challenges together, once they are assembled.
In this article, the JatApp team shares its experience in building an IoT product, as well as break down what functional IoT teams must do in order not to let you down.
Inevitable challenges in IoT development projects
For many people, the major difficulty associated with IoT projects is making software and hardware interact with each other with no hiccups. This challenge, however, pales in comparison with the complexity of managing a myriad of other interconnected processes, such as prototyping, obtaining raw materials, manufacturing, marketing, operations, sales, distribution, client support, legal, finance, and human resources.
Since most stakeholders and functions are interrelated, an obstacle in any of these processes would cause disruptions in the entire project.
Just look at the cobweb below and you’ll see that an IoT ecosystem model is both complex and interdependent.
An IoT ecosystem model
On a separate note, the IoT solutions “touch” the physical world, which is why it’s essential to build them in an efficient and secure way. If the task at hand is to build new parts of a connected car that transports people, there can be devastating consequences, if something doesn’t work as expected. This is one of the major reasons why the role of quality assurance (QA) engineers, who search for complex bugs in IoT products can’t be exaggerated.
Roles and skills in an IoT team
To better understand how an IoT team works, let’s gain some insights into the roles and skills that each member has.
Typically, IoT projects require developing custom hardware. Hardware designers may either use ready-made templates or perform complete redesign. The more design work needed, the wider the IoT engineer skills you will need.
Wireless communications experts
When it comes to IoT technology, everything is wireless. Wireless communication is a complex thing, as it combines the challenges of both IoT software and hardware engineers. Therefore, wireless communications experts need to have a versatile background, such as experience of working with network protocols, wireless communication, and software development.
For large-scale systems, these specialists are needed to dimension the network, while, for client-grade systems, their competence helps to make IoT gadgets connect easily via Bluetooth to end-users’ phones.
Embedded firmware developers
To transform the hardware into a fully-working IoT device, you need to build embedded software, which is often called firmware. The word firm here refers to… something between soft and hard. So, to differentiate software and firmware IoT engineers, you may simply have a look at their desks. While the former have just a family photo on their office desk, the latter are surrounded with lots of hardware. The common background of firmware developers is computer architecture, electrical engineering, and software development.
The back-end refers to software that connects IoT devices with end-users. Back-end IoT developers need to understand business logic and have the knowledge of the database for their daily work tasks. Back-end engineers usually have a background in software and database development. DevOps would also be a great plus, as it would help to run the back-end seamlessly.
Front-end developers need to cooperate with their back-end colleagues to avoid situations like this:
Mobile app developers
Mobile application development is a part of most IoT projects today. It’s worth noting that an IoT application is a component of the front-end, which is why the skills of app and front-end engineers overlap. The difference between them is that front-end developers are concerned mainly about the user experience (UX), while mobile developers narrow-focus their attention on the tech stack needed to build an IoT solution.
Systems integration and automation engineers
IoT development projects often require integration with existing software. In the course of time, you’ll need more integrations, all of which must be continuously tested. Automated testing, therefore, plays a key role in the IoT project, allowing to detect bugs in interoperability, functionality, security, and the list goes on.
Three emerging roles in IoT
More and more industries are adopting IoT solutions, which has resulted in massive job creation. Let’s have a look at new roles that have emerged in the IoT job market in recent years.
As IoT projects deal with lots of data, you need to be able to make sense of it. Data scientists are your helping hand in this regard. They’re responsible for analyzing complex data to understand patterns that would help to add value to your customers.
An IoT architect turns business ideas into design and working code. Even though these experts are not actually IoT software engineers, they analyze project requirements, convert them into an IoT device blueprint and map business needs.
An IoT full stack developer is a sort of a jack-of-all-trades. They’re expected not only to build the front-end and back-end of the solution, but to also have a decent knowledge of IoT. This means, for example, network protocol, sensors, and firmware systems.
In fact, you can find full stack experts at JatApp. We’ve talked to our full stack developer about his experience in building an IoT-enabled power bank rental platform for a startup from France for this article to get more details. But the interview came to be so engaging, that it would be a sin not to share it with you. So, without further ado, let’s take a quick dose of how it all happened.
Our experience in building an IoT solution
Osol, a startup from Cannes, has a mission to digitalize the workplace with an IoT solution that allows employees to be less glued to their office desks. Its power bank rental platform consists of the charging base and power banks, which a user can take to change their working environment, without worrying that their devices will run out of juice.
Osol powerbank renting platform
The main task of our IoT team was to make sure that the base and power banks smoothly interact with each other. Our full stack developer notes that the IoT engineers needed to have deep expertise in different tech stacks and architectures, since the project had three parts: admin panels, mobile application, and hardware of charging bases.
Osol mobile application
He also admits that there were two IoT teams: “An IoT team in Paris took care of the hardware and software for that product, while our team worked on mobile app development, API, back-end, and admin panel”. Despite such a distinct division of duties, both teams supplemented each other’s roles and quickly addressed any rising challenges together. Some problems related to hardware were on our shoulders, while back-end issues were resolved in close collaboration with our French counterpart.
Osol IoT software engineering
The role of quality assurance (QA) engineers was particularly important in this project, as all technology modules were independent and had to communicate with each other seamlessly. The analysis of logs was not always possible to implement, which is why engineers had to dive deep into the project to understand how each part of the device was working. This, in turn, helped them to fix a range of complex bugs.
As our developer remarked, “It was one of my most challenging and interesting projects that had made our team stronger in all aspects of IoT software development, ranging from communication to tech stacks.”
Build an IoT solution with JatApp
As you may see, building your own IoT solution from scratch is not a walk in the park. That’s why creating an effective IoT development team is a matter of project success. JatApp can become your partner with 7-year experience in building software for IoT devices. Our IoT development teams created white-label solutions that continue to conquer investors and users’ hearts even today (like, for instance, the aforementioned Osol that is used by dozens of registered companies). We’re not here to brag, but…okay, maybe we’re bragging a bit, but we can say with confidence: when you need help with software development for your IoT solution – JatApp professionals are who you’re looking for. Want to hire IoT development teams at JatApp? Don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll reach out to you as soon as possible.