The internet of things (IoT) is a real juggernaut among emerging technologies. It's not just another small step in enterprise computing.

The core idea that you can connect all sorts of different devices to the global internet is revolutionizing business in many industries. Smart homes, smart cities and intelligent peer-to-peer networks are part of a greater context of developing internet of things solutions for world consumer markets.

In this new and exciting world, the IoT solutions architect is very much in demand. This professional takes part in a lot of the different steps and processes that make IoT “real” at a company.

The Big Picture

There's a communications component to being an IoT solutions architect, as well as a technical component.

Some ads like this one point out that while programming is not required, IoT solutions architects should be comfortable building out architectures or huddling with engineers to figure out the best path forward for a particular deployment or implementation.

Eduardo Morales, marketing manager at Breadware, Inc., has more to say about the liaison role of this professional job position: “The IoT solutions architect relies on their team to find the answers they need,” Morales says. “The solutions architect needs to know how the whole puzzle fits together to know the questions to ask … clients need constant communication so a lot of time is spent on the phone, email and chat throughout the organization … the IoT solutions architect has to know a bit of everything and be able to communicate clearly. Things won't always go as easy as planned so thinking on your feet is vital to success.”

The IoT solutions architect will be involved in a number of different environments. He or she may spend time briefing executives, or time in the trenches building out systems, or looking theoretically at how manufacturers can take advantage of IoT technologies – not just the broader IoT market, but specific vendor offerings on a case-by-case basis. That's why OEM experience is important for an IoT solutions architect – this person needs to be able to see things through the customer's eyes. (For more on communications in tech roles, see The Importance of Communication Skills for Technical Professionals.)

Buy-In and the Sales Process

Although as we've mentioned, the IoT solutions architect has a job that's inherently technical, there's also an element of it that's not really tethered to engineering at all.

Part of selling any technology involves bridging the gap between engineers and sales teams. On the sales side, people aren't so concerned with what makes a product work – they're mostly concerned with how to market it.

Take a look at IoT solutions architect job ads like this to see how the IoT solutions architect as a professional immerses himself or herself in the world of sales and marketing.

Understanding New Networking Concepts

Some companies put this front and center in their job ads. They advertise that the successful IoT solutions architect needs to understand how to bring IoT “to the gates” of a network – how to stand up or deploy individual device architectures, and how to generally plug one thing into another thing.

Along with the major sea change toward cloud computing in business, there's also the emergence of distinct networking ideas such as fog computing and edge computing. (To learn more about edge computing, see Living on the Edge: The 5 Key Benefits of Edge Analytics.)

Both of these terms and network philosophies have to do with deploying sensitive data or any other data by getting it closest to where it's needed. In other words, you have a ton of connected devices out there, and you have the mothership – which houses the data center and middleware, and all of the things that the company uses to deliver to consumers or other customers.

Fog computing and edge computing allow the IoT solutions architect to find new ways of parking the information that's going to be vital to these business processes.

Qualifications

Companies generally expect an IoT solutions architect to have some type of related degree in computer science or some other technical field.

At a minimum, they have to have a very good understanding of how platforms and network technologies operate. They have to be familiar with an impressive array of jargon and conceptual work that's being done on the vanguard of the IT industry.

Companies also often ask these professionals to have people skills – good oral and written communication, some form of business background, and the ability to boil down very technical subject matter and talk about it in a business-oriented context.

That's what's really at the heart of this role – looking at IoT technology in context. IoT solutions architects can be a major stakeholder in a DevOps or agile process for a company. Companies are moving quickly to streamline everything they do and they need these types of managerial roles to get all that done.

“An IoT Architect creates POC and prototypes for ventures that may belong to different domains,” says Kim Smith at GoodFirms. “He/she collaborates and communicates effectively with enterprise architects, service engineers, developers, product management and sales in order to build deployable IoT solutions. The personnel develops a strong understanding of core architectural concepts including distributed computing, scalability, availability and performance. The IoT architect also manages the solution life cycle and field support from pilot to business adoption.”

Finally, companies may ask an IoT solutions architect to have understanding of proprietary technology, services, processes or products.

For example, here is an ad from AWS, a colossus in the IT industry. You can see that in addition to many of the things discussed above, the AWS role is supposed to know about how Amazon Web Services has innovated various cloud technologies.

Look for more on the IoT solutions architect as we enter a new world of connected devices.