ChannelTrends: IoT Gaining Channel Traction, Not Acceptance

Love it or hate it, the Internet of Things is here to stay.
Few things seem to rile a crowd of solution providers like mentioning the name the industry uses for the “intelligent platform of the future.” You can see it when you attend an event session or keynote and a speaker merely mentions the Internet of Things. Look around and you’ll notice some rolling their eyes while others seem annoyed. Some will go out of their way to NOT mention the offending phrase or end up using it in a disparaging way when asking a question of the panel or speaker. It’s not unusual to hear audience members (and even speakers) begin with a caveat along the lines of “I really dislike the term Internet of Things, but…” before going on to discuss or clarify opportunities relating to those technologies. 

The funny thing is, despite all the protests and aversion to the actual terminology, most channel professionals realize that the Internet of Things can bring value to their customers and their own businesses. With an estimated 50.1 billion connected devices by the year 2020 and $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add (Gartner), the opportunities for IT services providers appear to be quite substantial. IDC is even more optimistic, suggesting the worldwide market for overall IoT solutions could reach $7.1 trillion in the same time frame. 

Of course, the size of the market really depends on which technologies and services researchers include in their assessments. But anytime they measure the opportunity in trillion dollar increments, it’s sure to be a game changer. That’s a very rudimentary overview of the findings included in the latest CompTIA research brief, Sizing Up the Internet of Things. This report offers a great outline of the changes that are expected to take place over the next several years, as more and more devices are linked through the internet and other methods of communication. 

While the current systems connect computers, smartphones and tablets to sensors and applications, most of the currently available IoT offerings have very basic functionality and are bit too consumer-oriented. Many industry experts believe the next five years will see a major shift with the increasing focus on (and development of) the commercial “things” that can significantly boost automation and business productivity. CompTIA’s research brief touches on the expected advances and offers up several real-world case studies using IoT applications, including the retail, healthcare and transportation industries. 

Despite resistance to the terminology, most channel professions understand they can, and likely will, play a significant role in designing, building and supporting the infrastructure and applications associated with the Internet of Things. It won’t be easy, but what worthwhile business prospect ever is? While a handful of vendors have assembled certification programs for their offerings, there is no clear path to becoming an IoT expert. But solution providers can hone their network technologies and mobility skills. They should review the latest case studies, looking for IoT-based solutions that could provide significant advantages to their clients, and keep up with regulatory and security concerns that could turn into objections. 

Love it or hate it, the Internet of Things is here to stay. Once you accept that fact, and realize what these advances can do for your business customers, it’s a much easier concept to digest.  
Brian Sherman is chief content officer at GetChanneled, a channel business development and marketing firm. He served previously as chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at [email protected]

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