IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Turning the IoT from Promising Concept to Practical Moneymaker

The Internet of Things offers tremendous opportunity for channel pros, but translating that potential into viable solutions can be challenging. By Samuel Greengard
Reader ROI: 
THE INTERNET OF THINGS is a fast-growing opportunity for channel pros. Turning that potential into practical solutions, however,
DEVELOPING NEW SKILLS, knowledge, and capabilities through partnerships, employee enablement, or acquisitions are first steps.
LEARNING HOW TO SELL IOT SOLUTIONS by helping clients understand their business value is essential as well.
SUCCESSFUL IOT SOLUTION PROVIDERS usually start small and build on early successes.

IT’S NO SECRET that an increasingly connected world demands increasingly connected business solutions. During the last few years an array of devices, sensors, and systems—tied together by mobile technologies, the cloud, and real-time data processing and analytics—has introduced opportunities to redefine processes and disrupt entire industries.

There’s more than a little money to be made too. Global spending on hardware, software, and services for the Internet of Things (IoT), as that confluence of technologies is known, will reach $1.4 trillion in 2021, according to IDC.

But the IoT also presents an enormous challenge for VARs, MSPs, and other service providers looking to turn a grab bag of disparate technologies into viable business solutions.

“Although the Internet of Things has been around in some shape or form for about two decades, it is just now gaining momentum,” explains Benson Chan, senior partner at Hayward, Calif.-based consulting firm Strategy of Things. “There’s no single solution or stack.”

To make matters worse, most people find the Internet of Things to be a somewhat fuzzy concept. That lack of clarity can, in turn, lead to paralysis or cause business leaders to pursue ill-considered projects. Solution providers must be equipped to guide their clients past such hazards.

Making Connections Count

What does it take to build a successful practice in this tech segment? “Tapping into IoT requires new expertise and skills, and the ability to assemble an array of technologies that create value,” states Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of Boston-area cloud consulting firm THINKstrategies Inc.

Before adding such capabilities though, he says channel pros must embrace an easily overlooked fact: The Internet of Things is not a technology. It’s a framework that leverages a variety of devices and applications to deliver goods and services.

“It’s all about gathering information and using it to act in faster and better ways,” Kaplan points out. “The focus must be on creating value for customers, partners, and an enterprise.”

The next step toward building or strengthening an IoT practice is enhancing your internal skills, knowledge, and capabilities. Options include forging new partnerships with consulting firms, security experts, and other third parties; training current employees; or hiring professionals familiar with IoT platforms. Acquiring or merging with peers who already possess that technical know-how is an alternative to consider as well.

About the Author

Samuel Greengard's picture

Samuel Greengard, a business and technology writer in West Linn, Ore., is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015) and Virtual Reality (MIT Press, 2019).


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