By Charles Kriete
There are two questions I am asked by VARs, MSPs and telecom agents with increasing frequency: “What exactly is the ‘Internet of Things/Everything’ really?” and “How do I/do I want to build a practice around it?”
The Internet of Things (IoT) is still identifying itself on a daily basis, but I find the easiest way to explain it is simply as an evolution of the machine-to-machine (M2M) market that has been around for some time now. As a result, launching a practice is simpler than most people realize.
As with most “mature” markets, the M2M space has its market leaders and companies that are fulfilling different points in the value chain. There are companies, like my own, that are providing a variety of services to channel partners, such as managed M2M services, professional services, M2M/IoT hardware and equipment, and connectivity via the mobile network operators on a global scale. Additionally, there are companies born in the cloud that exist to provide cloud and SaaS models to this marketplace. By engaging and developing partnerships with both types of organizations, you can spin up a practice to cover you in the IoT space in fairly short order.
The ability to secure a few different partnerships that will allow you to 1) source equipment, 2) source wireless data connectivity, 3) provide secure, private managed services on the equipment and connectivity, and 4)provide a software platform to utilize the data is relatively straightforward and can allow you to act as an agent virtually overnight and as a true reseller within a month or two.
Furthermore, there is a huge opportunity in this space right now, as very few resellers/MSPs/agents have put themselves in a position to source all components of the solution and offer a full managed solution, complete with bundled lease pricing per site. Customers are looking for simplicity in this space. If given the choice between working directly with a mobile operator, a hardware provider and a SaaS provider, and a single partner that provides it all in one price per site or per location, the latter will win every time. Some of the biggest opportunities in the space right now are with vending companies, parking companies, waste management companies, chemical companies, fleet companies, utilities and many more — in other words, organizations that are looking to avoid IT complexity while gaining the benefits of better business intelligence and remote sensors for efficiency and cost reduction. They need partners to simplify the procurement.
This is certainly a tremendous opportunity for partners to leverage the backbone they have built to effectively provide solutions for the first several waves of the Age of the Internet. Given that the Internet of Things represents an opportunity bigger than all the previous waves combined, it would be a good idea to get a jump on it now!
Charles Kriete is senior vice president, sales, for Wyless, an M2M managed services provider. He joined Wyless from Tech Data, where he was the executive vice president of the TD Mobility division, a company that he cofounded in 2005 as OTBT and that was later acquired by and operated as a joint venture between Tech Data and Brightstar. He is also a member of the 2013-14 Channel Partners Advisory Board.