The Scottish IoT play: apps first, devices second
The Scottish IoT play: apps first, devices second
Credit: Pixabay

The Scottish IoT play: apps first, devices second

The IoT starts with connected devices, networked industrial sensors and the occasional Internet-enabled toaster, right?
Software mobility specialist company Mobile asserts (from an arguably somewhat contrived viewpoint) that we should actually consider software application development as the real foundational cornerstone that determines IoT success.

The curiously named Scottish outfit is known for its enterprise and consumer-level mobile software products, including the InstallFish application distribution platform. Mobile CEO Ross Tuffee claims that, while devices are obviously a key consideration in every aspect of the Internet of Things, it is applications and their dependent mechanics that make it work, or not.

Read more: IoT Build: hello world, welcome IoT developers

What the software layer does

According to Tuffee and team, success depends upon developer-centric elements including software integration layers, the presence of automatic provisioning, connections to native email, client analytics, bespoke app stores and flexible branding – all factors that emanate from the software development layer.

The McKinsey Global Institute says that the IoT has the potential to generate $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion year-on-year by 2025. However, businesses will struggle to benefit from this potential windfall if they fail to grasp the importance of mobile applications when taking their IoT services to market.

Sticky Tuffee

Tuffee sticks to his guns and waxes lyrical about the need for the IoT software development function to provide the ability to connect different devices together.

“A business could develop a compelling use case for the IoT and the utility for users might be there, but the design of the apps will ultimately determine how successful they are and whether or not they will gain traction and actually get used in the long term,” says Tuffee.

“By way of example, a smart metering company can enable users to control their homes through an application on their smartphones. But unless these applications are intuitive and well-designed people will not use them as a matter of habit,” he adds. explains its approach to IoT programming as one that looks to positively exploit user behavior and provide what it openly calls ‘habit-forming technology’. This is where user engagement happens and where application use cases grow and develop, according to the company.

Read more: Google launches Android Things, a new IoT platform for developers

Four hooks to get IoT hooked

Ultimately, businesses want the end user to keep returning – and this, says, happens as result of a four-hook approach:

  • ‘Triggers’. Understanding the user’s fundamental motivation and need for adopting a connected device and its corresponding application.
  • ‘Action’. Creating a compelling User Interface (UI) with intuitive ‘no instructions needed’ operational functionality.
  • ‘Investment’. An appreciation for time investment needed at the user’s end as the device and its application becomes embedded into that person (or group of persons) lifestyle.
  • ‘Rewards’. An ability to fulfilling the emotional needs of the user through application functionality.

“The IoT is still a relatively nascent technology. Considering this, the companies that are early to understand behavioral engagement patterns and then create engaging mobile applications, will be the ones who will capitalize on the rapidly growing IoT market,” concludes Tuffee.

Read more: App developers face challenges when working with IoT tech

Chicken & egg?

The message is clearly aligned to promote the business of IoT mobile software application development, but either way, Mobile has a reasonably tasty bone to chew on and is doing so from a central Scotland locale rather than Silicon Valley or any more widely recognized hub of application innovation.

So which came first: the chicken or the egg, the connected device or the software application?

Obviously it is the ‘app’ that has existed in isolation before the IoT has provided a new device form factor and network paradigm in which devices operate in the first place. Does that mean we should still start our IoT architecture planning with apps before devices? Well, software runs the world and the world runs on the Internet of Things, so the answer is probably yes.

What we may ruminate on is a future where the device layer becomes ubiquitous, invisible and inherently built into the fabric of society itself – and at that point (if not before) then we will focus on application capabilities even more.

In the meantime, let’s keep the IoT app-centric and the chickens free-range, right?