Smart factory initiatives integrating advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning within the manufacturing environment present an expansive array of opportunities for manufacturers to develop novel business models and generate supplementary revenue streams.
Unfortunately, data indicates that manufacturers have difficulty turning smart factory projects into reality. A possible solution to this predicament is the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT devices, outfitted with embedded sensors, facilitate data acquisition and exchange, empowering manufacturers to optimize production processes and curtail downtime. But as with other smart factory initiatives, despite the myriad benefits offered by IoT, integrating these devices with existing systems can pose formidable challenges due to integration issues and the necessity for specialized expertise.
IoT professionals are indispensable for ensuring the security and reliability of these systems, as well as for devising solutions that facilitate the seamless integration of IoT devices with legacy systems. By overcoming these challenges, manufacturers can harness the potential of IoT to accomplish digital transformation and maintain a competitive edge in the market.
Businesses can consider using a low-code/no-code development strategy to overcome the challenges of adopting IoT devices and networks.
By leveraging low-code solutions, organizations can create custom applications for IoT use cases, manage data sources effectively, and align applications with the needs of multiple stakeholders. Low-code development methodologies can help businesses fully utilize IoT opportunities in the manufacturing sector.
Low-code technologies allow team members to construct solutions relatively easily without requiring extensive knowledge of coding languages, best practices, and development principles. Developers can access a user-friendly, drag-and-drop framework that enables rapid solution implementation, sometimes within hours.
With low-code platforms, citizen developers can create solutions without relying solely on IT, which is especially beneficial, considering that 75% of employers say finding tech talent is their primary concern.
While IT is still essential for higher-order tasks such as governance, data ingestion, and cybersecurity, low-code allows business departments to collaborate with IT to develop customized solutions while still meeting IT requirements rapidly.
In particular, low-code platforms enable personnel on the ground to develop solutions that suit their needs based on their timeline rather than the priorities of the C-suite or IT department. By using low-code, companies can embrace the concept of shadow IT without exposing themselves to significant risk.
During the pandemic, low-code solutions gained popularity as businesses needed to be more responsive to fast-changing market conditions. Although some speculated that this interest would wane as operations returned to normal, the adoption of low-code is projected to continue to grow. According to Gartner, the low-code market is expected to expand by 20% in 2023 alone.
In addition to capitalizing on IoT opportunities, pairing a low-code development strategy with IoT infrastructure offers several benefits for developers, IT engineers, and business stakeholders.
Low-code platforms simplify deployment processes, allowing organizations to deploy applications with just one click. Additionally, low-code solutions are portable and designed to run in cloud-native environments, enabling teams to deploy seamlessly to any environment, including on-premises, in the public cloud, in a hybrid architecture, or at the edge.
Manufacturing businesses can rapidly create customized IoT applications without professional developers. They offer pre-built integrations, resulting in faster development and updates, making them a cost-effective and efficient solution for organizations.
Less complexity shrinks the total time it takes to develop applications, allowing businesses to do more with fewer developers. This efficiency becomes especially valuable in light of the projected global shortage of over 85 million development engineers by 2030.
Moreover, AI-assisted development workflows help developers construct microflows tailored to specific use cases, allowing businesses to develop applications faster and with fewer resources.
Low-code development platforms allow businesses to create application components for easy reuse across different applications. This reusability feature streamlines the development process by reducing the need for developers to create new elements from scratch, resulting in faster application development times.
As IoT devices change and applications evolve, businesses can modify and reuse existing components, maintaining compatibility and continuity with their existing systems.
With low-code development, every stakeholder within the organization can build the tools they need to get the most from their IoT data. This approach empowers citizen developers to get solutions on the board without waiting for IT.
Low-code development platforms enable development and deployment cycles that are fast, smooth, and integrate seamlessly into existing workflows and toolsets, such as the Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) workflows that many businesses use.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, 80% of apps will be developed by non-IT professionals, emphasizing the importance of low-code and no-code solutions for enabling citizen developers to create solutions without relying solely on IT professionals.
Selecting the optimal low-code/no-code platform for IoT integration is imperative for manufacturers seeking to accelerate development workflows, boost operational efficiency, and maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly connected industrial landscape.
This strategic choice hinges on a deep understanding of the platform’s technical capabilities, ensuring that it aligns with the organization’s unique requirements and objectives while facilitating seamless integration with the broader IoT ecosystem. Key factors to consider include:
Low-code/no-code platforms will be a driving force in shaping the future of industrial manufacturing, as they facilitate seamless IoT integration and promote accelerated digital transformation.
By streamlining development processes and minimizing the need for specialized expertise, these platforms will enable manufacturers to adapt to evolving market demands and technological advancements rapidly.
As the industry moves forward, the adoption of low-code/no-code platforms will be essential for manufacturers to remain competitive and innovative, solidifying their position as an integral component of the manufacturing landscape.
Richard Rabins is CEO & Co-Founder of Alpha Software.
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