How to Turn the IoT Into a Moneymaking Machine
At the heart of digital information lies the Internet of Things (IoT) — more specifically, the data flowing from these connected devices. IoT data has become the new digital currency, and channel partners with the right technical know-how and business acumen can get a piece of the action.
“IoT is one of the key drivers of digital transformation,” says Rich Karpinski, research director at 451 Research. “This is a fundamental rethinking of what data and applications mean within an organization.”
At the upcoming Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas, April 17-20, Karpinski will explain how channel partners can become leaders in IoT. As part of the IoT conference track on April 18, in a session called “Riding the IoT Data Storm to Profitville,” Karpinski will also talk about the major trends in IoT, such as cloud computing vs. edge computing.
There’s no question IoT is a big opportunity for vendors and channel partners alike, driving sales of tech gear and integration services. A recent 451 Research study, for instance, found that customers deploying IoT plan to increase storage capacity, network edge equipment, server infrastructure and off-premises cloud infrastructure. Channel partners will be relied upon to put these pieces together.
In a Q&A with Channel Partners/Channel Futures, Karpinski gives a sneak peek into the insights from his session.
Channel Partners/Channel Futures: What’s one of the surprises coming out of your session?
Rich Karpinski: A big question right now is what’s the push and pull – cloud or edge – in terms of where IoT workloads are best handled. Depending on the decision, it’ll have big implications for where vendors can participate in IoT projects, and where channel partners will be teaming up.
We’re at a point now where it’s really shaking out in the enterprise. Where do we to collect all this data? Where should we handle all the compute and analytics functions? How do we make IoT very valuable for companies? Vendors are pushing specific strategies, while enterprises are finding their requirements. None of this is settled. It’s all in play.
CP/CF: What makes IoT a good fit for the channel?
RK: This is an ecosystem and infrastructure that’s wide ranging: use cases, sensors, connectivity, (real-time) analytics, historical analytics, storage. Technology may have to be deployed right next to, say, a manufacturing system on the factory floor. There’s a lot of systems-integration work that needs to be done across a multi-tiered architecture.
Channel companies partnering with cloud providers and infrastructure-as-a-service providers can find opportunities to deliver services in those environments.
CP/CF: Who takes the lead in IoT?
RK: There’s an opportunity for a channel partner to take the lead. We field a quarterly survey of enterprise users, and one of the things we see is a variety of different lead players in IoT deployments, everyone from hardware vendors to cloud vendors to consultants and strategy players to VARs and implementation partners. If you’ve done work in manufacturing, transportation or health care and really understand both the business and technology requirements, then you can be a lead partner.
CP/CF: What’s the catch?
RK: IoT is a challenging area for a channel player to go after. You need a broad range of technical capabilities and a deep understanding of the business requirements. It’s a fairly long sales cycle. You really have to prove your ability to deliver ROI. There [are] not necessarily big margins at the start. But it’s an opportunity to specialize, and I think that is what the channel is best at.
CP/CF: You’ve mentioned business requirements a couple of times. Why is this so important in IoT?
RK: When talking about IoT, it’s all vertical-specific use cases, from autonomous driving to a retailer’s trending footfall to a manufacturer needing a trigger that immediately changes the workflow or process. There is no general application.
You’re also dealing with line-of-business people who are looking for business outcomes delivered as a service. You’re going to bill or charge customers based on these outcomes, and they’re going to measure you on them too, not just speeds and feeds.
CP/CF: What’s the big takeaway in your session?
RK: Enterprise IoT is where the action is, not Alexa, Google Home, flashy things like the connected car. It’s the down-and-dirty applications in manufacturing, health care, transportation and oil and gas. They’re going to be the really big drivers and see a lot of the big investments.