Kelly Ireland founded CB Technologies in 2001, just as the new millennium was taking off. After 20 years spent implementing corporate enterprise solutions, Ireland wanted to start something fresh. She launched CB Technologies as a menu-driven, value-added reseller and solution provider and has been on the forefront of the rapidly escalating IoT market from its start.
CB Technologies isn’t testing the IoT waters. The southern California-based VAR has multiple IoT deployments across oil and gas, utilities and manufacturing. When new IoT projects pop up within customer environments, the service teams are bringing in additional resources and partners to meet customer needs. In this Q/A, Ireland describes how IoT is breaking past rules—and making new ones—for solution providers.
Q: How did you prepare CT Technologies so it could take on IoT?
A: About five years ago, I started listening to Meg Whitman and watching industry leaders to understand what they saw as the future. Everything was going more into engineered solutions, not transactional, so we started hiring more engineers. We also interviewed customers about their issues and started vetting partners and technologies to see what we could use to create these solutions.
After interviewing more than 80 clients, we realized the projects they wanted would need more customization and integration. Each solution that customers were describing would need tweaking slightly, because they’re all taking a different approach.
We moved to a strategic service-oriented model after listening to our customers. Before our services might be 15% of what we were doing. I see a transition to 50% or more, even up to 75%, depending on what the solution is. Everyone in this market needs to be ready to transition. You have to transform. If you don’t, you’re dead.
Q: Lots of solution providers are researching IoT. What tips and advice would you give them?
A: First: don’t try to boil the ocean. Pick something and run with it. Find a niche that makes complete sense, and concentrate on that. If you’re in a vertical now, say healthcare, I guarantee you there’s something you can find in there. If you’re in manufacturing, aerospace, any of the verticals, you can find an opportunity there, and in some cases it can go across industries. Second, hire the right engineers and resources that you need internally. And third, be passionate about what you’re doing.
Q: What would you say to the solution providers that are hesitant to partner? Why is it so important?
It’s important to have partnerships because if you think you can do everything yourself, you’re going to go broke. You’re not going to get to market in the time that you need to. Seek out partnerships when you’re missing expertise. Strong partnerships are critical to a successful IoT deployment.
These insights are only a sliver of what Ireland knows about IoT. She has more to share about the asset management solution her team has created for multiple verticals, how she’s approaching her customer base about IoT and expected revenue upticks.
You can dip into her vast warehouse of knowledge at an upcoming virtual event. On Wednesday, October 18, Ireland joins IoT experts at IoT Connex Virtual.
Register now for this free half-day event hosted by the parent company of CRN and sponsored by Intel. Join industry analysts, technologists, innovators and business leaders to learn about IoT integration, opportunities, partnerships, platforms and more.