By Rob Moyer, Synnex
IoT and cloud continue to become more pervasive in the IT channel. Everything, it seems, is about how IoT will disrupt our businesses and transform our lives. From executive offices and boardrooms to IT departments, embracing IoT and cloud now comes with a sense of urgency that sometimes creates more confusion than solves real-world problems.
In reality, IoT and cloud are merely the broad frameworks from which to build on. And, while they are fragmented markets filled with disparate technologies, with the right strategy and approach, they can be wrangled into viable solutions that solve problems and most importantly, create value for businesses.
Channel partners need a road map.
Rather than focusing on the technology itself, partners may want to start by thinking about creating solutions to be implemented in specific vertical markets. Most end-users are past the need for basic and broad IT services and are looking for specialized offerings that package various technologies in a cohesive way. By cultivating an IoT specialization and identifying a niche, you can stand out by providing solutions that no one else is offering. Keep in mind that some of the narrowest applications have the largest potential upside.
Transportation, public safety, education, manufacturing, agriculture and health care each include an abundance of opportunities for IoT. Partners should get started on a single vertical, maybe two. The experience that you gain by concentrating in a core area could be extremely valuable.
After gaining some expertise in engineering solutions in just one or two verticals, you may then want to think horizontally, keeping in mind that a solution in one vertical will often translate into other verticals. For example, designing and engineering a digital signage solution for smart-city bus stations could readily translate for application in schools, hospitals, corporate offices and co-work spaces. The technology that displays the estimated time of arrival for the next bus is not altogether different from the technology that displays the availability of conference meeting facilities or physician treatment rooms.
A connected bus solution that fits city buses with Wi-Fi, video and GPS works just as easily for school buses. Gunshot-detection technology that alerts first responders to security incidents on buses can also be used inside schools and corporate offices. And technology to monitor temperatures, lights, doors, flooding and refrigeration applies to offices, schools and hospitals.
In addition to solving today’s real-world challenges, it’s critical to think five, 10, even 15 years down the road. Partners should reach out to their vendor and distributor partners to learn about what technology is coming down the pike, the vertical solutions that are a fit for these customers and how you can stay ahead of the competition.
Corporate IT isn’t usually the most knowledgeable of the critical needs faced by the departments they support. The real conversations are with the farmers who work the fields, in agriculture; or the principals, staff and teachers in the classroom, in education. Mid-level management and those who are working in the trenches know best about the challenges they face.
At the end of the day, it’s all about working with the broader partner ecosystem to design and engineer advanced solutions that connect ecosystems of products across multiple vendor offerings. Keep the emphasis on the engineering, while never losing sight of service and support. If you focus your approach on real-world solutions that start in one vertical but can be applied horizontally, you’ll be headed for a long and prosperous future in IoT and cloud.
Rob Moyer is vice president, cloud services, mobility and IoT, Synnex Corp.