Once called makers, product developers are getting more sophisticated and creative—and are realizing they may need help getting their ideas from design to manufacturing, especially in the Internet of Things space. These were the findings of a survey recently conducted by distribution giant Avnet.
“We have seen a shift from concept of maker to product developer,” said Bob Merriman, director of strategic planning for EBO on the Avnet Product Developer Survey. “Makers have become tinkers on the side but the product developers have evolved into wanting to get their product out there. In the past, they tried to shoulder a lot more of the load themselves. Now, they are recognizing how partners can support them in finding resources and help that they need.”
One in four developers point to IoT as the most improved technology of 2018, while more than one in three (37%) rate it at the top of the list of most important technologies, the found. The survey polled 1,190 product developers of users in the Hackster.io and element14 engineering communities. Sensor technology was second on the list with 24% of the mentions.
“IoT and sensors are leading the way in importance and impacting the design process,” said Dayna Badhorn, vice president of emerging business, Avnet. “But survey respondents also noted these are the most underrated technologies when it comes to innovation, signaling that IoT and sensors will have an even greater impact as developers engage partners to help them take their ideas from prototype to production.”
There’s little argument that the IoT market offers ongoing opportunity to product developers. The number of connected devices that are in use worldwide now exceeds 17 billion, with the number of IoT devices at seven billion (excluding smartphones, tablets, laptops, or fixed line phones), according to IoT Analytics.
At the same time, IoT presents its share of challenges. The majority of those surveyed (81%) of developers working at startups point to security as a major roadblock when developing new products and services. At the same time, some phases of product development are getting easier. In fact, 58% pointed to developing and testing prototypes, up 17% from the prior year. Developers also reported process improvements in identifying the best source for technologies (up 9%) and scaling production (up 16%).
One in three developers report that they have recently searched out partners to help them bring products to market. Often, these developers are looking for specialized expertise. Developers have a variety of items on their shopping list for a development partner: a strong track record in their industry (49%), strong technical support (43%), or found through personal recommendation or personal relationship (39%).
“Product developers recognize that being part of an ecosystem can help,” Merriman said. “Startups and product developers have a tremendous amount of smarts in building circuits but things get challenging when you move out of the garage and into production. They know where to get five sensors but now they need 50,000.”
Take a look at the infographic below to see more of the study findings.