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Tech Data, Avnet Highlight Channel IoT Opportunities

Internet-of-Things

More than six billion things are connected today, with the Internet of Things (IoT) supporting total services spending of $235 billion, according to forecasts from research firm Gartner.

Gartner predicts that there will be 20.8 billion connected devices by 2020.

In targeting opportunities in IoT, channel partners are no longer just selling a product, such as a piece of hardware, according to the panelists in a concurrent education session at Channel Partners Evolution. Instead, the focus is on providing an outcome to a business, experts said.

“It’s not a piece of hardware. It’s really an outcome,” said Michelle Curtis, senior manager of Smart IoT Solutions at Tech Data.{ad}

Nancy Ridge, executive vice president of Telecom Brokers, also emphasized the importance of understanding the business outcome a customer is seeking. Some simple examples cited included the use of sensors to measure water quality and agricultural crops.

Sam Oliver, program manager of IoT and data analytics with Avnet Technology Solutions, said is IoT is “really around the service it enables.”

“What are the series of solutions that can provide better insight?” he asked. “It’s not necessarily an individual product but services that surround the solution.”

Oliver noted that IoT has many facets, and he described the shift in the marketplace from “second-platform technologies,” such as traditional enterprise hardware, to things like analytics, security, mobility and social media. While channel partners may not be experts in all the areas above, they can leverage their experience in certain areas such as mobility to take advantage of skyrocketing demand for IoT.

Connected devices can generate millions of points of data, but the question is how to use a small amount of data to provide insights, Oliver pointed out.

“Kind of like my Twitter feed,” Ridge responded.

The experts noted that business customers are having multiple stakeholders at the table simultaneously to discuss an IoT solution — not just the IT department but such varied interests as those of senior executives and the personnel that will be impacted, such as the head nurse at a hospital.

IoT represents an opportunity for monthly recurring revenue, such as offering temperature monitoring as service, Curtis said. But Oliver warned that the sales cycle is not a short one: It ranges from 12 to 18 months, he said, referencing as an example a project that was launched eight months ago involving the monitoring of cellphone tower boxes in Australia.


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