Why Partners Must Grasp Verticals to Successfully Sell IoT

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If cloud computing was a wave that partners rode – or failed to ride – the internet of things is a tsunami, experts say.

IT channel partners have two choices: They can try to gain control of this tidal trend as it washes over enterprises, or they can be utterly subsumed by it. Simply put, IoT technology brings this mantra: Change or die.

According to data, IoT technology is poised to have major impact on enterprises over the next decade. Analyst firm Gartner says there will be 20 billion IoT-connected things by 2020 — and that’s not just phones and tablets but also dedicated-function objects, such as jet engines, vending machines, and oil pump sensors. And the size of the IoT market is projected to be $1.6 trillion by 2025, according to Statista.

Optimized Channel's Michelle Ruyle

Optimized Channel’s Michelle Ruyle

“While cloud has been the most popular person in the room, IoT will rule the world,” predicts Michelle Ruyle, CEO of Optimized Channel.

And if cloud computing has been the prevailing architecture over the past decade, edge computing may be more important for connected things, because of low-latency, high-volume data needs.

“The edge is going to eat the cloud,” says Jo Peterson, vice president of cloud and security services for Clarify360.

Join Ruyle, Peterson and 100+ industry-leading speakers, more than 6,400 partners and 300+ key vendors, distributors and master agents at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, March 9-12. Register now!

Channel Partners sat down with Ruyle and Peterson in advance of their panel session, “IoT: The Promise, the Pitfalls and How Partners Can Help,” March 10, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas, to learn how channel partners can successfully sell IoT technology and take advantage of this next technology wave.

Channel Partners: Is IoT just the next wave of technology or is it fundamentally different from the previous chapter of transformation that introduced cloud computing?

Clarify360's Jo Peterson

Clarify360’s Jo Peterson

Jo Peterson: Cloud is a foundational vehicle for IoT. But IoT is different just in terms of the number of devices that can be connected. We may think about it as just tablet and phones. But everything can be a device. In the health care industry, you’re talking about all kinds of things that can be connected and that we haven’t thought of before. In some circles, analysts have said the edge is going to eat the cloud, and the cloud will be more of a back-end processing unit.

Michelle Ruyle: And that has a lot to do with the [silicon] chips that will go in these connected things. Today the chips are less sophisticated. But going forward, they will become more mature and able to do analytics at the edge.

CP: What are the opportunities to successfully sell IoT in the channel?

MR: First, we should look at the different kinds of partners we’re talking about. It’s VARs [value-added resellers], it’s MSPs [managed service providers], it’s agents who are all looking at IoT and wondering how they can participate.

What’s interesting about the opportunity to successfully sell IoT is that the internet of things has a broad ecosystem of solutions: It has hardware, software, connectivity and orchestration activities. IoT spans this entire business process versus being a standalone IT project.

Agents, for example, are used to selling IT projects and they don’t necessarily have the hardware or software perspective. The connectivity is something they are more familiar with. I think that one of the things holding back IoT is that different partner types have to understand all these pieces figure out how they can play a role. If they are a VAR, how can they …

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