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Half of developers lack skills and resources to develop IoT apps, says Harbor Research

Steve Rogerson
June 26, 2015
Half of developers don’t have or are unsure if they have the necessary technology, skills or resources to deliver on IoT expectations,according to a survey by Harbor Research for Massachusetts-based Progress Software.
Slightly fewer (45%) do not feel they have the technology tools to gather, analyse and use contextual data from sensors. And just under a third experience data overload and feel overwhelmed trying to manage it all when managing data sets for contextualised IoT apps, for example, location-based apps.
Despite many still feel they are lacking the necessary technology, skills or tools,77% of respondents consider the IoT opportunity exciting.
The survey solicited responses from 675 application developers polled from the USA, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Netherlands and India. Of those surveyed, 45% are developing IoT apps. Developers based in the USA are developing the highest number of IoT apps (58%), followed by the Netherlands (50%) and Germany (43%).
Nearly two-third of IoT apps in production today are generating real revenue. And developers expect this figure to rise to 80% by 2018. The industries that currently lead in IoT development include smart homes, wearables, automotive and sports and fitness.
When asked which industries are key to IoT app development, research respondents cited smart homes (19%), wearables (13%), automotive (11%) and sports and fitness (11%) as the primary markets. They also named these industries as having the highest IoT app revenue today. The public sector was at the bottom of the list (4%).
A shift is predicted in the next three to five years, with app developers expecting healthcare (14%), smart city (13%) and automotive (12%) as the top three industries for IoT app development and revenue generation. Public sector also rises to match today’s popular wearables market, with both at 8%.
Developers have cited Android as the best operating system for building apps for IoT devices (29%), followed by Windows (24%), Linux (21%) and iOS (16%). Java proved the most popular platform or language used to collect and integrate data from the server side (55%), followed by PHP (17%) and Node.js (12%). Of respondents, 40% always or usually use a rapid application development tool to build apps, rather than building from scratch – a significant shift from traditional development approaches.
“The number of connected things is set to explode, with Gartner forecasting it will reach 25 billion by 2020,” said Mark Armstrong, vice president at Progress. “Our research shows developers put their long-term bet on industry and infrastructure IoT apps as the foundation for revenue generation. They just need the right technology tools to gather, analyse, use and manage contextual IoT data to maximise this opportunity from both a creative and revenue perspective. With the right approach, developers can turn their big ideas into business reality, helping define the IoT and its future.
Developers around the globe agreed security and personal privacy, data privacy and protection from malicious attack, and general integration and data management are the top challenges in designing, deploying and engaging customers with IoT apps. They also confirmed these are the biggest challenges in monetising IoT apps.
Survey respondents believe commercial vendors (31%) and the open source community (24%) have the greatest power to help solve these problems. They have little faith in the potential contribution from government (8%) or industry bodies (7%).
Harbor Research is a research, technology and consulting business that has a specific practice on IoT. Its work is global and it tracks market movements, product development and the IoT realities across executive, IT and developer audiences.