Chip, skills shortages hold back IoT

Shortage of chips + shortage of software developers x drastic uptick in IoT devices = @#$!!(Getty Images)


The global chip shortage of 2021 has compounded a long-time shortage of software developers amid a boom in Internet of Things devices, according to a new survey of 262 embedded device and connected product development managers at global enterprises.

The survey found more than 80% of manufacturers face challenges in producing digital products and services.  Delays in getting access to chips affect 61% of the organizations in their ability to deliver new products, according to the survey conducted in March by Forrester Consulting on behalf of The Qt Company, a software company based in Helsinki, Finland.

Software development cycles are also delayed, with 31% in the poll saying the delays last for more than seven months. This delay has come as 82% said they need to introduce new smart or connected products and services to maintain or grow market position.

“We’re at a crunch point in global technology manufacture and development,” remarked Marko Kaasila, senior vice president of product management at Qt, in a statement.

On top of a shortage of chips and increased demand for software, 75% of managers in the study said that demand has outstripped the current supply of developers, a constant concern for companies over the past two decades.

The survey focused on how businesses can create a more efficient development and delivery process of smart devices. Among the concept for improvement, 82% said they see a need for high level software tools and development, while 87% said cross-platform software libraries are important.

In recommendations with its survey, Forrester recommended that one way to combat the chip shortage is to use cross-platform development frameworks.  “Until the global semiconductor shortage eases, digital product decision-makers will need to remain flexible and use what can be sourced, when it can be sourced. Investing in flexible software tools and platforms that support a wide variety of silicon can reduce the impact of critical supply chain shortages,” the consultants recommended.

Forrester also called on managers to “break up the skill silos,” adding that native development for individual chipsets leads to isolated pockets of skills that are difficult to transfer to new platforms. “Cross platform frameworks and tools make it easier for developers to work across different embedded platforms and fill developer talent needs,” the consultants said.

“While the semiconductor shortage is predicted to last well in to the second  half of 2021, organizations can act now to refine their design and development process, the DevDes cycle, and mitigate the impact of the challenges being faced,” Kaasila said.

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