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5 Channel Ops: Special Internet of Things Edition

Lorna GareyI spent a few days this week at PTC LiveWorx, an event focused on the industrial IoT. As a result of PTC’s recent acquisition of Vuforia, much of the content was around ways businesses can use virtual and augmented reality to better serve customers. I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t as bleeding edge as you might expect. Digi-Capital argues convincingly that AR/VR could hit $150 billion in revenue by 2020, with AR taking the lion’s share with around $120 billion of that.

PTC LiveWorx“We at PTC think that notion of physical digital convergence must expand to incorporate the way humans experience products,” said Jim Heppelmann, PTC’s president and CEO. As an example of that convergence, Caterpillar showed the 5,000 attendees an augmented-reality application where technicians on a job site could use mobile devices to turn CAD drawings into interactive manuals, complete with animations. It’s very cool stuff (you can see some examples here) and more accessible to customers than VR because it makes use of existing hardware, like iPads, rather than requiring expensive – and, let’s face it, impractical – headsets.  Here’s a good write-up of the sales case for AR.

Of interest to PTC’s channel partners are new PTC Remote Service and PTC Connected Service Parts Management as well as Vuforia Studio Enterprise, which allows companies to take existing assets from PTC’s Creo CAD software, as well as other 3D modeling tools, and plug in animations and IoT sensor data, such as temperature and operating speed, without writing new code. The need for development expertise to maximize IoT is going to be a sore point for customers; we’ll offer some remedies at this Channel Partners Evolution session.

The new Remote Service offering enables customer-support technicians to diagnose and resolve issues without a truck roll, while continuously monitoring KPIs to ideally avoid downtime in the first place. With Connected Service Parts Management, companies can track the location and performance of equipment, model future demand and have replacement parts on site before customer equipment shows signs of failure.

Takeaway keynote quote from Heppelman: “Data is the new oil, analytics is the new refinery.” If you don’t help customers extract value from raw data, someone else will.

Dell Also Makes IoT Waves

Dell made a trio of announcements this week: It added new partners to, and promoted others within, its Internet of Things Solutions Partner Program; announced winners of the $600,000 “Connect What Matters” IoT contest for businesses with innovative ideas; and marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of its IoT division and release of purpose-built IoT edge gateways.

“We’re proud of the progress that we’ve made this past year,” said Andy Rhodes, Dell’s executive director, Commercial IoT Solutions, in a statement. “With the launch of the Edge Gateway and Embedded Box PCs, our quickly growing partnership program and now our successful IoT Gateway Contest, our efforts underscore Dell’s deep commitment to driving IoT adoption for real world use.” 

Rhodes also spoke at the PTC LiveWorx event about the importance of driving home the business case for IoT, which may mean not even using the term “IoT.”

My personal favorite example of Dell IoT in action: the Internet of Bees.

TIA: IoT Will Be Mainstream by 2019

The Telecommunications Industry Association released this week a survey and white paper, produced with Machina Research, examining enterprise use of IoT technology. TIA’s conclusion: Within two years, more than 90 percent of companies will be using IoT tech. Currently, nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. businesses are actively using IoT, and an additional 43 percent expect to deploy within the next 24 months.

In a white paper analyzing the survey results, TIA concludes that IoT is set to become a mainstream enterprise element by 2019. And, among the 200 senior management respondents, most want implementation partners who can provide comprehensive, end-to-end services and support. Specifically, they need help integrating IoT and legacy systems (no surprise) and addressing security and the cost of implementations.

Looking for more on IoT security? Click here for access to our report, “IoT: Why It Won’t Succeed Without the Channel,” for a rundown of the three must-have pillars of a profitable IoT program and the security considerations intrinsic to each element.”

Lenovo, Google Do the IoT Tango

You may have heard of Google’s Project Tango, which combines 3D motion tracking with depth sensing to give a mobile device the ability to know where it is and how it moves through space. As the device senses and maps its surroundings, it enables augmented-reality experiences. While largely a consumer play, there are plenty of business uses. A retail example is the new Wayfair Furniture app. After installing WayfairView on a smartphone, shoppers can visualize the company’s catalog items in their homes at full scale before they make a purchase. And when they want to buy, the app enables that, too. Lowe’s is also on board with a Tango-enabled application, Lowe’s Vision.

Lenovo showed this week the first consumer smartphone powered by Tango technology, the PHAB2 Pro. The device uses motion tracking, depth perception and area learning to sense its surroundings. Imagine museum tours, letting customers visualize clothing items or helping someone with impaired vision navigate unfamiliar surroundings.

Besides the Tango device, Lenovo announced two Moto Mods smartphones that come with interchangeable backs. Of interest to road warriors, one snap-on module can make the phone a 70-inch projector, while another adds 22 hours of battery life. You can see Lenovo chairman and CEO Yuanqing Yang’s keynote and product demos here.

CyberArk Addresses IoT Security

One worry holding back IoT is security — especially the threat to systems that could affect public safety. An attacker stealing a credit card number doesn’t stack up on the risk meter to someone shutting down the power grid or opening a dam and flooding homes. ICS-CERT says there were 97 critical manufacturing sector incidents in 2015, double what we saw in 2014. The problem is that once-isolated operational technology (OT) networks are getting connected to malware-ridden IT systems.

In response, partner-focused security provider CyberArk this week announced new security capabilities for industrial control systems to limit the progression of malware, better identify privileged account-related risks and improve remote access security in industrial environments. The CyberArk Privileged Account Security Solution is aimed at manufacturing, pharmaceutical and critical infrastructure customers, like energy and water utilities. The suite includes a password vault, SSH key and privileged session managers, threat analytics and more.

HPE Touts 5 IoT Wins

We’ve covered development at HPE’s Discover Conference, held this week in Las Vegas. The company also issued a roundup of IoT announcements:

The HPE Edgeline EL1000 and Edgeline EL4000 converged systems can be placed, as the name implies, on the network edge to run analysis in the new Vertica Analytics Platform. By analyzing data near sensors, customers avoid the cost of moving it across networks into the data center. HPE also announced integration of the Aruba ClearPass access management system to automatically detect, onboard, manage and secure IoT devices without manual intervention. 

To help partners explain the business value of IoT, HPE launched an interactive IoT Transformation Workshop and four IoT Innovation Labs, where partners can envision how IoT can be applied, build and test IoT applications and devices in a secure environment and collaborate on solutions. The labs are now open in Houston, Texas; Grenoble, France; Bangalore, India; and Singapore.

Are you selling IoT? Let me know in comment or at @LornaGarey on Twitter, and join us at our IoT education tracks at Channel Partners Evolution.


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