Photo: Steve Brumer, 151 Advisors
At the recent IoT Evolution channel panel discussion, Steve Brumer, a partner at New York City consulting firm 151 Advisors, had this advice for solution partners: “I would start an IoT integration company in a heartbeat. IoT will touch every single industry in the next five years. Think of all the different aspects of making money.”
Brumer noted that right now, not one company can provide a total IoT solution, and most importantly, “This stuff is still hard.” A full solution requires sensors and products from manufacturers, connectivity tools, as well as data platforms and people who can analyze—and act—on the data collected. He sees a huge opportunity for solution providers to be the force that brings all the pieces together, designing and building integrated IoT solutions for their business customers.
151 Advisors, which offers IoT strategy and consulting services to global businesses, sees the IoT market growing rapidly in three areas:
- Manufacturing ($178 billion globally): Condition-based and predictive maintenance tools
- Transportation ($78 billion globally): fleet management and asset tracking
- Utilities ($69 billion globally): remote monitoring and control
The company also sees healthcare, specifically elder care, as a huge IoT market opportunity. Companies and solution providers could offer devices and services to monitor the consumption of medicines and movement of seniors within a house or assisted living center. IoT tools could send alerts for needed house maintenance for seniors. 151 Advisors also says that seniors could benefit from direct video communications with medical professionals and everything else that a family member or caregiver would want to know to ensure that their elderly parent is healthy and safe.
Connectivity, Security, Platforms
Brumer discussed what is happening in the IoT market with the various technology pieces, including connectivity, sensors and data platforms. He sees a decrease in CapEx and OpEx cost, as cellular connectivity and 4G LTE Module pricing has decreased significantly. “We are seeing a battle for LPWAN,” noting that LoRa-based companies (Actility, Senet), Sigfox and wireless carriers (LTE Cat 1, LTE Cat M1, NB-IoT) are spending a lot of money to gain market share.
151 Advisors also mentioned security as a great place for solution providers to step into the IoT ecosystem with answers. “Everyone working in IoT is worried about when the next Dyn cyberattack is going to happen,” he said.
The market still has an endless amount of IoT platforms, which makes it confusing for businesses to pick the right one for their specific needs. “A new platform is released every day. Is it too easy to build a platform?” Brumer asked. As the platform has to function properly for the IoT solution to succeed, Brumer sees platform integration, data management and cloud solutions as viable—and lucrative—opportunities for solutions providers.
Proof of Concept and Use Cases
Brumer says that getting an IoT solution up and running is still a challenge. A recent study by Cisco revealed that 60 percent of IoT initiatives stall at proof-of-concept stage. “How can the channel help lower this number?” he asked.
He noted that there are 162,000 channel partners in North America, and the average channel partner is an eight-person shop. The average solution provider doesn’t have the expertise to go it alone and chase after the entire IoT world of platforms, products and applications.
For these small organizations to capitalize on the complex IoT solutions market, solution providers need to partner with vendors, chip manufacturers, distributors and even other integrators. He noted that new IoT vendors are looking for the right channel providers to help them build a strategy to accelerate their go-to-market vision.
Photo: 151 Advisors
Brumer said that the success of IoT depends on market education. The vendors making the IoT tools have an obligation to have training programs for solution providers, so they can go to market to their customers and show the value of IoT. 151 Advisors sees the target channel partners for the IoT marketplace as the IT VAR, UC/telecom resellers and alarm and security dealers, who can provide connected locks as well as surveillance cameras for the home, business and smart city implementations.
The important piece that solution providers add to the equation is the customer relationship. “The fleet manager that has worked with his local solution provider for years will turn to him first when he wants to add GPS tracking and temperature sensors to his fleet of refrigerated trucks,” said Brumer. “If the VAR can educate his team, partner with a sensor company and manage the IoT installation and data for the fleet, the VAR can make quite a bit of extra revenue.”
Another speaker on the panel, Daniel Obodovski, founder and CEO of consultancy firm The Silent Intelligence in San Diego, CA, offered similar advice, recommending that solution providers create use cases to demonstrate to customers the value of IoT.
“You need to create stories. Turn your IoT solution or product into a story. Start by outlining the problem a customer is trying to solve. By understanding the details of the solution and explaining how IoT changed your customer’s business, you can interest other customers in the technology.”
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