The potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) is endless. Ideas on how to use the IoT continuously present themselves – from the way we do business to the way we live our lives. However, once you get to the point where you must transform your idea into reality, you will have to make some tough decisions. Selecting the right tools and technologies can help you eliminate these obstacles and make the most of your idea.
This is the sixth and final installment of my blog series focusing on different approaches that make the development of IoT solutions more efficient. If you have been following this blog series, you probably have a good overview of how each of these different approaches influences the development process and how to apply them to your IoT project. One resource that I haven’t mentioned before, but would like to introduce here in my final post, is the utilization of developer zones.
Imagine the following scenario: your old phone has reached the end of its life and it is time to get a new one. Since you are most likely going to use this new phone for several years, you want to avoid making any hasty decisions. Therefore, you have done your research and know all about the phone’s technology, as well as the community of developers supporting it with apps and new content. You have reviewed the different compatible gadgets and accessories that are available on the market and finally cut your choices to two buying options. While you have researched every possible aspect of those two phones, you haven’t had a chance yet to actually get your hands on the phone and put it to the test without a sales person looking over your shoulder. Wouldn’t it be great if you could take those phones home with you for a few days to get a real feeling for how well they perform?
The more complex the product is, the more the customer wants to put the product to the test before making purchase decisions. In the IT sector, developer zones have become a common tool to offer potential customers exactly that kind of experience. The general idea of a developer zone is to give users access to the product, offer additional educational content on how to use it, and allow them to explore the product.
As the IoT market continues to grow and technologies become more and more elaborate, vendors and technology providers are starting to offer similar services. Especially in the IoT, where users typically do not get the opportunity to experience the new technologies in advance, it is even more important to provide novice users with a guided experience that will help them get started and explore all the different aspects of the technology. Some developer zones offer packaged software kits that are equipped with sample software or applications, as well as instructions and tutorials to enable users to rapidly build a sample application and connect their first device.
Before making any purchase decisions, try to get a real feel for the IoT technologies you are evaluating. You must make sure your technology provides the user experience you require and promised functionality works and integrates seamlessly with the technologies you already have in place as well as the ones you are planning to use. It is also always a good idea to ask what resources are available and whether you will be able to draw from pre-built components or the expertise of a trained and experienced developer community. While developer zones are becoming more readily available, having the opportunity to ‘test drive’ a solution, just might sway your final decision.
Image by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)