Photo credit: Wachter
The Channel Co: Are there industries or sectors that are more open or receptive to adopting IoT technology?
Wachter: After a lot of research we selected healthcare and energy as our main areas of focus. A lot of people are claiming that manufacturing is going to be an aggressive adopter, but we’re seeing some lag in that.
On the other hand, healthcare is a huge adopter currently and with the uncertainty in the healthcare market—between insurance and government regulations—hospitals are being squeezed to the max, so they’re looking to get any cost savings on technology that they possibly can.
Our observation solution, for example, is made to reduce the need for one-to-one sitters in an ICU environment. Typically, a hospital will deem a patient as needing a one-to-one sitter where they’ll sit a clinician in a room, and that clinician will just sit there and watch the patient. They can have 40 to 80 of these people sitting and watching patients 24 hours a day. It’s not very productive, and 9 times out of 10 instances, it’s not reimbursed by insurance.
With our IoT-enabled solution we’re able to take that one-to-one to about a 1 to 12 or 1 to 18 scenarios, which allow the nurses to do more beneficial things within the hospital.
The Channel Co: And how about the energy sector?
Oil and gas is another great market. The biggest problem we see there, in this slow growth rate, is the inability or lack of contractors that can work in these environments. These are class I/division I explosion crew hazardous environments, which the typical IT integrator has never experienced. They don’t have the people or the know-how to work in these environments.
We’ve been tremendously successful in finding new ways for these guys to communicate.
Companies that sell point communication solutions have handcuffed this whole market with expensive products that only work within their ecosystem. You can’t do any integration with other manufacturers. Now, with push-to-talk over an IP network and pervasive wireless you can do so many more things with that same type of investment.
In the oil and gas market they say that workers have tools in their hands only 17 percent of their time in the field. With some of the newer solutions we’re looking at, it’s possible to cut a 26-step process down to a four-step process—and it gets them well over the 50 percent mark, as far as time on tools.
We’re being asked to help consult with Fortune 10 companies in the oil and gas sector to help them understand what else these technologies can do.
The Channel Co: How much of the customer conversations involve the words “IoT”? When you’re building a solution, do they care whether or not this is labeled IoT?
Wachter: You know, it’s funny. We did a two-hour brainstorming session with a customer recently and we started off by talking about some of the potentials and then we got into some nuts and bolts. We laid out what a three- to four-year roadmap would look like, as far as technology and how it could benefit them. And everybody was pretty pumped up about this meeting. We closed the meeting with saying, “and that’s IoT.” The phrase IoT never came up the entire two-hour session, it just happened to be at the end.
The Channel Co: Tell me a little bit about your relationship with Intel and what benefits you get out of the relationship and the IoT specialization?
Wachter: Our relationship with Intel is relatively new in that from the outside we’ve always looked at Intel as silicon. Now, we see the new products like the retail sensor platform coming out, and our response has been—we can take advantage of that. That’s not just a product that goes in something else. That’s an end-user product that we can really get our hands on.
We recognized that working with Intel is a good play for us. As integrators, we need to know our customer’s business, and we need to know the manufacturers and the product lines to be able to build the solution.
There are so many different variations, so many different manufacturers out there that we needed someone that could be our matchmaker and help us get these solutions together quickly. Who better than Intel that has this enormous ecosystem of partners that do everything from software to hardware to sensors to this and to that? To be able to have them in your back pocket and say, “Hey, Intel, I need XYZ gateway to do ABC tasks for this customer.”
They’re making matches for us, which is dually beneficial; one, for them they’re selling more silicon and then two, for us, we’re getting relevant solutions to our customers a lot faster with a lot less manpower because we don’t have to do all that research.
The Channel Co: Does the IoT specialization from Intel give you any advantages that you didn’t have, say as an Intel Gold Partner, for example?
Wachter: It gives us more credibility. A lot of times if you look at the big guys, and their IoT projects are typically proof of concept. They don’t have a big book of business that’s closed, as far as IoT.
What Intel’s IoT specialization does, is it allows Wachter to be seen by Intel partners, like Dell and HP, as a credible organization in the fact that we’ve proven ourselves. We’ve proven to be able to put together solutions that are relevant to our customers and bring those to fruition. We have 1,500 people across the country with 900 licenses to be able to install this stuff. No other Intel IoT specialized partner has that capability.
The Channel Co: So you’ve already got the seal of approval?
Wachter: Yep. Exactly.