How Will The Enterprise Recruit For IoT?

The Enterprise Wants Consumer Success

Yes… I’m completely and totally enamored with my Amazon Echo and the Amazon Dots that are spread through our house and the offices here at Relus. These devices are a huge success from a retail standpoint, and developers are prying loose the Alexa voice-controlled user interface software to use in web applications.

Amazon was a laggard to the game of providing consumers a way that bonds them to web apps. I won’t remind you about the phones in our pockets that are always listening or keep us glued to social media like a fish is to water.

Yet, it gained ground with the launch of Alexa, its voice-controlled user interface that debuted with Amazon Echo. Alexa started out as a device that let users check weather and play music. It’s evolved to support them to summon Uber, have pizza delivered, and control internet of things (IoT) devices and access web applications in an innovative fashion.
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Alexa Trickles Down to The Enterprise

The Alexa Skills Kit lets enterprises add a voice interface to any web app. While the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) lets device makers add a voice interface to their products for free. This makes it simpler to incorporate Amazon Alexa development into devices such as speakers, smart phones and smart appliances. The platform has the conceivable ability to drive cell phone-like headsets without the need for a screen, as there is already an Alexa-powered speaker that lets consumers make phone calls. And maybe that’s the most important feature – the UI is your voice, an interface that you’ve been taught to use and manipulate in since you were only a few years old.

Look at what was recently announced at CES 2017! 30+ new products were introduced that take advantage of the Amazon Echo.

Companies can use the Alexa Voice Service to add voice-powered experiences to any connected product that contains a microphone and a speaker. Who doesn’t have a microphone and a speaker? Every phone today has these two components!

The free service enables end users to power devices through a voice interface, which can be more intuitive than a traditional interface. The back-end is cloud-based, which makes it easy scale. AVS manages all of the services needed to translate speech and then transform text into audio on the device, allowing device makers to discriminate services.

If this is easy to scale, then who will build these apps or skills for the enterprise? What will their tech stack and know how need to be to build something that’s never been built before?

Identifying Who to Hire for IoT

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Developers can add back-end services to the platform using the Alexa Skills Kit — a collection of APIs, tools and code samples. To access these services, customers ask Alexa a question or issue a voice command. For example, the Campbell Soup Company implemented the Alexa Skills Kit with its Campbell’s Kitchen application to give consumers hands-free access to recipe ideas using the Alexa device. Capital One lets customers check balances, pay bills and track spending. HomeAdvisor enables consumers to find plumbers or electricians and then call them all via Amazon Alexa.

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Necessary Skills for Effective IoT

Developers can apply custom skills using either an AWS Lambda function or a web service. With AWS Lambda, the skill runs in the cloud and can be written in Java, Node.js or Python. Developers can also create a web service in any language that interacts with Alexa, and it can be hosted on AWS or any other cloud-hosting provider using HTTPS requests. To do that, developers should also have a grasp on REST APIs. Developers also need to create a custom interaction model that defines requests for skills to handle and the words to access those requests.

There is also a Smart Home Skill API that can make it easier to control smart devices from cloud services. Internet of things device makers are adding Amazon Alexa development to their devices using ASK, as vendors have already integrated support for thermostats, security cameras, light bulbs, door locks and sprinkler controllers. Alexa integration with adapters that plug into a car’s diagnostic port allows consumers to check fuel levels, remind them of where they parked and track mileage.

Using Java, Node.js, and Python with IoT

The Java and Python SDKs help you easily and quickly connect your device or application to AWS IoT, send and receive messages using either MQTT or MQTT over the WebSocket protocol, and exchange state information with device shadows (sometimes referred to as thing shadows). All of the SDKs are open-sourced on GitHub, so you can use them as is or tweak them for your device or application.

What does AWS offer mobile developers? At the most basic level, AWS provides SDKs for both iOS and Android in the mobile space. For Android, Java developers may be interested in the AWS Toolkit for Eclipse, “a plug-in for the Eclipse Java IDE that makes it easier for developers to develop, deploy, and debug Java applications using Amazon Web Services.” Since hybrid apps with Java and HTML5 are likely to gain more traction in the foreseeable future, it’s a smart move to provide support for this developer group.

Using REST APIs with IoT

As cloud platforms proliferate, the desire of device makers and companies to expand their ecosystems and avoid silos will provide opportunities for platforms to link to each other in the cloud. Achieving interoperability may be more likely to happen in the cloud because of scale and the benefits of relieving the consumer from having to understand all of the protocols and interoperability issues.

The IoT industry could grow toward more standardized representational state transfer (RESTful) web services that achieve more interoperability at the cloud level. Some point solution platforms are architecting their platforms to be as flexible as possible, should manufacturers want to work with other third-party integrations and services. Closed platforms are not likely to succeed as the IoT moves toward wider integration.

(http://docs.aws.amazon.com/iot/latest/developerguide/thing-shadow-rest-api.html )

Hire Data Engineers and Data Scientists for IoT

IoT devices like Alexa are always on and always collecting data. The average user can now create terabytes of data in days – not years.

When enterprises think about big data, they tend to focus mostly on the information they are collecting directly from interactions with customers. More forward-thinking business people might also recognize the value that can be extracted from data collected by partner organizations. But what about all the big data that is already available out there, free of charge, for anyone who cares to mine it? AWS offers a library of free datasets that boggle the mind. Much of the information is of limited business value.

How do you think the proliferation of IoT devices will increase the demands for developers and engineers who can leverage these skill sets?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Brian Fink

As a member of Relus' recruiting team, Brian Fink focuses on driving talent towards opportunity. Eager to help stretch the professional capabilities of everyone he works with, he's helping startups grow and successfully scale their IT, Recruiting, Big Data, Product, and Executive Leadership teams. An active keynote speaker and commentator, Fink thrives on discovery and building a better-recruiting mousetrap.