A Distributor’s View: Eight IoT Takeaways from SYNNEX
The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities is a big focus for distribution giant SYNNEX this year. The VAR Guy caught up with some of the company’s key executives to see what’s exciting to them about everything IoT.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities is a big focus for distribution giant SYNNEX (SNX) this year. The VAR Guy caught up with some of the company’s key executives to see what’s exciting to them about everything IoT.
1. All about the insight
First, we improved communication by deploying broadband. Then we deployed devices to gather data. Now, we’re applying analytics to make sense of that information in real time and take action on it. The next step, says SYNNEX CEO Kevin Murai, is being able to actually predict what might happen based on the data that’s being collected.
“And it is enabled, by the way, with access to broadband, with lower cost devices and all that. That’s truly what’s going to change the world,” says Murai. “It doesn’t matter if it’s on the commercial side, if it’s on the public sector side or if it’s on the consumer side. There are just going to be newer ways of doing things that are much more efficient.”
2. The public sector is ahead of the curve…
In some ways, the public sector is way ahead in terms of third platform technology adoption, according to Eddie Franklin, vice president of public sector at SYNNEX. “We’ve got automated parking, we’ve got a lot of municipal surveillance, we’ve got a lot of sensors that are tracking everything from pedestrian traffic to traffic monitoring for cities. There are tons of sensors that are already out there in play,” he says.
Municipal and local governments can move at a relatively quick pace because the project scopes are smaller. “It’s local governments saying hey, we’re going to monitor DoT facilities. We’re going to have better traffic control. We’re going to do automated parking solutions, automated ticketing. Those are local sports. It’s not something that gets adopted statewide.”
3. …and also behind the curve.
The federal government is a little bit of a different story. It’s actually been utilizing IoT devices in limited use cases for quite awhile, says Franklin. “If you look at the department of interior, the US geological survey, they’ve always had a lot of that sensor at the edge, delivering data back.” Specific tasks such as watching seismic activity and monitoring water tables have long since leveraged IoT technology.
But wide adoption inside federal agencies has been slow to come. Franklin says a big reason for that is the very complex and ponderous buying process for things like carrier connectivity and hundreds of thousands of pinpoint sensors or other end devices. “There’s a little bit of that procurement angst.
4. Video surveillance: now new & improved!
Traditionally, if a crime occurred that was captured on video surveillance, detectives would have to scan hours of footage until they pinpointed the incident. Now, with analytics, they can enter a query and have the system automatically identify exactly when a notable incident took place. Motion sensors can see when a window was broken out. Smart cameras can recognize when a specific color of car drove through the camera’s line of sight and which way it went. The capabilities are astounding, says Mike Gambrell, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement who now oversees the public safety vertical for SYNNEX.
“One of the first concepts of smart cities is being able to have the proper video, whether it’s body worn cameras, in-car cameras, public safety camera systems or drones,” says Gambrell.
5. Privacy, please!
Everyone is talking about data privacy as it relates to IoT, but Franklin thinks the issue is somewhat overblown. “There’s an illusion of privacy today,” he says. “One of the things I’ve heard recently is that when you accept the terms and conditions for Facebook, you give them complete control over your phone.” That, however, doesn’t stop people from downloading the Facebook app.
When it comes to pubic safety, Franklin says it’s a matter of intention. “In downtown Greenville, there are 130 cameras downtown. Do I feel violated? No. It’s not Big Brother out there trying to watch what we’re doing. Everybody’s motivations for those kinds of technologies being put into place are good.”
6. I’ll grant you that
In the grant application process, Gambrell says, it’s important to be able to show the quantifiable impact that new solutions will have in terms of enhanced officer safety, time reduction in daily tasks, reduced response times and so forth. It’s about hard numbers, not soft goals.
When it comes to grants, there’s one vital thing that channel partners have to understand: Policy drives everything. A solution provider or reseller that wants to sell to a law enforcement department would do well to examine its policies in order to determine the parameters of the sale. How much storage do they need on hand? What are their security guidelines? “When you first see an RFP,” says Gambrell, “one of the first things you need to do is get your hands on that department’s policy.”
7. Your IT is so 2005
When it comes to dealing with legacy IT in the public sector, Franklin sees a huge opportunity for the channel. “Time marches on. Just like eventually you’re going to need to get a new car, you’re going to need new technology,” he says. “Part of the skill for our resellers is installing new technology that compliments or extends the life of existing technology.”
“There is some additional work to make the technology platform you’ve got today productive as you move forward. Solution providers, that’s the job they’ve got.” As a solution provider, you’ll probably have to orchestrate old IT and new IT, figuring out a transition plan for technology that has outlived its usefulness. “But you have a Day One of your platform and as you go forward you’re going to buy newer, cooler stuff – things that are more efficient, things that are more cost effective, things that are more powerful. Then you can gracefully exit the technology party you have today.”
8. A world of pure imagination
What’s exciting about technology today? For Murai, it has nothing to do with new tech. It’s about using existing tech in novel ways. “Innovation, to me, is one of the most important skills that we all have to sharpen and hone,” he says. “When we talk about our investments in IoT, we can sit down for thirty minutes and come up with a couple of dozen real IoT solutions that we would like to pursue.”
“It’s only limited by your imagination. That’s what’s exciting about technology today.”