IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Tech Data Launches Internet of Things Business Practice

Tasked with helping channel pros profit from near-term IoT opportunities, the new group will offer both validated solution reference architectures and an array of partner enablement offerings. By Rich Freeman

In a major intensification of its efforts to transform the Internet of Things from promising whiteboard concept to real-world, present-day revenue source, distributor Tech Data Corp., of Clearwater, Fla., has created a new business practice designed to help channel pros assemble, sell, and support complete IoT solutions.

Named Smart IoT Solutions by Tech Data, the new business unit was announced today at Microsoft’s 2016 Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto. It is led by Victor Paradell, the distributor’s European vice president of IoT solutions, who explained in an interview with ChannelPro that his group will deliver validated reference architectures for complete IoT solutions spanning from the edge of the network to the cloud, using hardware, software, and connectivity from leading vendors within Tech Data’s supplier base. Partners can then tailor those solutions to the specific needs of their clients.

“They add a lot of value customizing [and] enhancing,” Paradell says.

The new group plans to release three solution designs apiece in each of four vertical industries: manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, and “smart spaces,” Tech Data’s label for building safety and security, smart parking, and energy optimization systems. All 12 solutions are mostly at the proof of concept stage currently. Paradell’s group hopes to release finalized versions by the end of this year, and will explore adding further solutions in 2017.

“You cannot try to be good at everything, so we are focusing on these four verticals and then we will go deeper and deeper on the number of solutions that we’re going to design,” says Paradell.

Among the first wave of offerings now under development is a predictive maintenance solution that industrial equipment manufacturers can use to monitor their products remotely for signs of impending breakdowns, and a truck fleet management solution that can help businesses optimize delivery routes on the fly in response to shifting weather patterns.

Aware of the questions many channel pros have about how to profit from the Internet of Things, as well as their doubts about how qualified they are to deliver IoT solutions, Tech Data is accompanying its 12 reference architectures with educational materials, sales tools, and other enablement resources aimed at demystifying the new product category and helping partners explain it to their clients.

“We make IoT simple,” Paradell says. “That's the aim of what we're trying to do.” The distributor will provide access to solution architects capable of offering concrete, project-specific technical guidance as well.

According to Paradell, channel pros who believe the Internet of Things is relevant only to large enterprises stand to miss out on a rich new stream of potentially lucrative projects. While thousands of big businesses will indeed deploy solutions involving millions of web-enabled devices in the years ahead, many smaller companies will roll out more modestly-scaled systems involving thousands or even just hundreds of devices as well.

“There will be millions of those, which means that a lot of the opportunity sits on the mid-market,” he says. Today’s announcement reflects Tech Data’s eagerness to help resellers who target midsize businesses capitalize on that opportunity.

Tech Data is presently showcasing a variety of IoT solutions in its booth at the Worldwide Partner Conference, where it’s a diamond-level sponsor. As ChannelPro reported last month, there will be more news to come at WPC from the distribution leader this week.

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