The Rise of 'IoT in a Box' and the Sales Opportunity

Are you selling IoT solutions yet?

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

March 25, 2019

5 Min Read
Internet of Things (IoT)

The bundle method is becoming the standard for delivering internet-of-things (IoT) solutions to business customers.

Steve Brumer, partner at Brumer Hubler IoT Group, and Natasha Royer Coons, managing director, TeraNova Consulting Group, will discuss how vendors and channel partners are building platforms for the hot technology. One popular strategy is to offer pre-assembled combinations of hardware and software to clients.

The two experts will speaking during the “IoT in a Box: Are Prebuilt Bundles Right for Your Business?” panel, part of the revenue and portfolio supplier conference track, sponsored by Nextiva, April 10, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

We chatted with Royer Coons and Brumer about their upcoming talk. We’ve edited the transcript for clarity.

CP: Are prebuilt IoT bundles becoming more prevalent?


Brumer Hubler IoT Group’s Steve Brumer

Steve Brumer: The market is trending to a complete solution based on several components, which include technology (LTE, Cat M, NB-IoT, LoRa) across all MNOs. This allows solution providers to invest in an entire offering for their down channel. In other words, they take their solution — for example, fleet. They package the back-end platform, customer facing dashboard, data, device and ongoing managed services, which allows VARs to go to market in less than 30 days; [that] includes NDA, contract, training and ordering for their customers.

Eliminating the relationship building across the entire ecosystem is worth the cost savings for a true “IoT in a Box” relationship. You can do this across multiple verticals including fleet, network failover, PERS, security [and so on], allowing for a one-stop-shop environment from start to finish. IoT in a box — voila!

Natasha Royer Coons: Yes, I see bundles as an early trend to increase IoT adoption and to attract more channel partners to sell IoT by simplifying the “solutioning” and integration process. As with most technology revolutions, they start out with science projects and a lot of proofs of concept and pilots.

In 2017 there remained reports of an ongoing 75 percent IoT project failure rate. [But] as with most great technology waves, IoT technology providers started adapting and companies deploying IoT began to focus on defining opportunities around verticals.


TeraNova’s Natasha Royer Coons

According to Bryan Merckling, CEO of Thinaer: “Consider early IoT, where the leading platform providers focused solely on the ability to manage your edge devices. In short, you could only monitor the health and update firmware on your edge devices. The key to IoT is the data and the ability to analyze it in real time, but, in the beginning of IoT, that required an expensive consulting engagement and cross-unit collaboration inside of the end-user’s organization.”

Fast-forward to today and platforms are “self-contained.” IoT can be deployed quickly with readily available dashboards to visualize your data, built-in reports and analytics along with rule-based alerts so your IoT project can succeed, now needing only the data the platform generates. Expansion and integration [are] easier now too as IoT platforms have APIs right out of the box.

CP: How might partners benefit or suffer from selling an “in-a-box” solution compared to doing custom integration?

NRC: IoT “in a box” can be the undergrad degree before entering the Master’s in a custom integrations program. It helps to simplify the complex, making it easier to sell and deploy, and it requires no capex or upfront investment, making it very low risk for the partner, and also the end user. It also can be leveraged into …

… larger deployments as the partner and customer become more comfortable with the technology and potential use cases. For example, partners have successfully implemented Sprint’s MyDevice “in-a-box” temperature control solution in the health-care, food-distribution and hospitality industries. And once customers get a taste of IoT, they almost always are eager to expand and try other use cases.

Vikrant Gandhi, industry director of IoT for Frost and Sullivan, says to keep in mind that: “[A] high degree of “plug-and-play” is available in some consumer IoT apps … but for purely enterprise deployments, we will still need a fair bit of integration/customization. Consider the range of device types, device capabilities, software/firmware versions, regulatory and compliance requirements, [and so on].

It’s all definitely improving with ease of deployment becoming a competitive requirement.

SB: This could effect customers, based on timing within the market once deployed. In other words, in fleet, if a customer needs updated scripting based on time increments for reporting, which includes speed, engine performance, erratic driving — then they’re reliant on their solution provider to build and design those scripts and perform OTAs. In another example, if they need the dashboard customized or if they’re performing a module change within “the box,” then they need to rely on the solution provider to test, vet, potentially perform the board spins on behalf of the customer, which could be a time inhibitor and costly engagement. If the down-channel customer requires carrier changes and their “IoT in a box” provider isn’t familiar with the API’s for this carrier, then there’s a learning and development cost, as well as time.

CP: What do you hope your audience will take away from your presentation?

SB: There are a plethora of providers available for every solution. It takes, time, energy and capital to develop these solutions, so if you’re planning to do this in a vacuum, then the learning curve is normally more costly than if you utilized a full blown “IoT in a box” provider. We do want the base Channel Partners audience to believe that the industry is getting to the point where IoT is easy for them to sell and deploy but with current IoT in a Box working on LoRa, we will need other technologies to make it truly universal.

NRC: Think about the 20.4 billion connected devices that we can pull into our projects. The IoT market is complex but full of opportunity.

Andrea Miner of Tech Data said, “In order to provide direction to our channel partners in IoT, we believe in providing repeatable solutions. Will those repeatable solutions or bundles have to be modified? In some cases, yes; however, the bundle makes the IoT conversation doable and makes the IoT market accessible to many more partners.”

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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