IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Smart Things, Smart Partners

In an increasingly connected world, integrators are carving out IoT niches with practical solutions that automate tasks and deliver deeper insight. By Colleen Frye

SMART DEVICES like sensors are “small potatoes” in terms of revenue, says Lonnie Ludwig. Smart solutions, on the other hand, help businesses get to the next level by using automation and data insight to improve efficiency, effectiveness, safety, and more. This is the true value add, and where integrators like CBT have set their sights, according to Ludwig, vice president of solution services for the Orange, Calif.-based company. “We're not out there trying to sell 30 sensors. We're selling the solution.”

From smart office buildings and homes, to smart agricultural operations, to smart manufacturing, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are poised to be a gold mine for channel pros and integrators who can carve out a niche among this very large ecosystem of products and players.

Consider this:

  • The agriculture IoT market will grow from $12.7 billion in 2019 to $20.9 billion by 2024, with precision farming accounting for the largest share of that market, according to B2B researchers MarketsandMarkets.
  • Juniper Research expects the global number of industrial IoT (IIoT) connections to increase from 17.7 billion in 2020 to 36.8 billion in 2025, with smart manufacturing as a key growth sector.
  • The global smart home market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 13.52% from $80.83 billion in 2019 to $207.88 billion by 2027, according to Verified Market Research.

Here are some solution providers targeting—and thriving—in each of these sectors.

TSP Smart Spaces

Michael Oh launched TSP LLC in 1992 when he was an undergraduate at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., initially serving the Apple ecosystem and then evolving to cross-platform support for both Mac and PC environments for small businesses in the area. Today the company has two major lines of business: TSP IT Services, an MSP with a recurring revenue model; and TSP Smart Spaces, which offers smart residential and commercial technology solutions that integrate visual, audio, lighting, HVAC, and security.

Michael Oh

Oh created TSP Smart Spaces about seven years ago when he was looking to diversify and an executive at one of the customers he supports approached him about a house he was building. The executive had worked with a traditional AV integrator to install a control system in his previous house and wanted something that worked better and was less expensive.

“It was a collaboration,” Oh explains. “He understood that we weren't going to be experts in it from day one, and to a certain degree, very few people were at the time. We did a lot of research and this is where our networking and MSP background really helped. You can look at the foundations of any big IoT system right now, and the core of that is a really good, reliable network.” Learning the control systems and audio/visual are just layers upon that MSP foundation, he says.

What is different in the IoT space is that the integrator works “almost like a design consultancy,” Oh says. “We don't have a single go-to-market solution. We start with an initial schematic design process, and so we almost work more like an architect.” This includes elements such as finish and colors. “You get involved with interior designers that want particular fabrics … So it's a very complex process, but one that we've obviously gotten very used to,” he says, adding that “it's a very different flow from a traditional MSP.”

The business value for Oh’s customers is the ability to anticipate what technology is necessary for how the space, whether it’s high-end residential or commercial, is going to be used and design that in from the beginning versus retrofitting. “That can save huge dollars,” he says.

After ironing out the details, TSP selects from its curated list of vendors and solutions. Every smart automation project starts with the network, ideally when the walls are down in a renovation or before the walls are up in new construction. This gives TSP “tremendous flexibility to put in the appropriate wiring and put in access points in all the right places,” Oh explains.

Next is determining where the network racking goes, taking into account space, heating, and cooling requirements. Then TSP layers in, integrates, and secures the smart solutions the customer wants. The range of products TSP works with includes:

  • Mobotix security cameras
  • Lutron Palladiom Keypads
  • LG TV media boxes
  • Trufig faceplates
  • Lutron sockets
  • BeoLab 18 speakers
  • Sonance architectural speakers
  • LG W-Series OLED panels

Oh concludes, “The fun and the magic part about it is you have a hundred devices and effectively you need them to work together in a very synchronized way.”

About the Author

Colleen Frye's picture

Colleen Frye is ChannelPro's managing editor.

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