By Diane Krakora, CEO
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a hot topic of the moment. Consumers and businesses alike are fascinated by the concept of things communicating with each other to make our lives easier and make our companies more successful. It’s almost the stuff of science fiction. But IoT isn’t science fiction – it’s here. And it’s being used to create business outcomes that wouldn’t be possible without it. How can channel partners get involved in creating and selling these new business outcomes?
First, here’s a quick primer: IoT is a network of connected devices – cars, manufacturing robots, inventory control systems, refrigerators, logistics facilities, fitness bands, power management systems, thermostats, home security systems and so much more – all connected via the Internet and able to communicate with other devices. That network of connected devices creates a lot of data that can be analyzed and parsed to help businesses find ways of refining their processes, streamlining their operations or improving their customer service, for example.
IoT is not a new concept; companies have been using it for a few years. In fact, there’s a good chance your company is utilizing IoT in some way right now. And somewhere along the way, some genius decided to put a catchy name to it. And thus, the latest technology sensation was born.
Channel partners are muddled over IoT. Some are excited by the opportunity, while others are apprehensive because they think it’s one more thing they have to learn. They don’t understand it, so they can’t see the opportunity.
But IoT isn’t going away. By 2025, IoT is projected to have a total global worth of $6.2 trillion. Most of that will come from devices in health care ($2.5 trillion) and manufacturing ($2.3 trillion). That’s according to Intel, which so far has been a leader in the IoT opportunity. Cisco Systems, another huge IoT proponent, has said that by 2020, the number of Internet-connected things will reach 50 billion, with $19 trillion in profits and cost savings coming from IoT over the next decade.
If the thought of IoT makes you or your channel partners anxious, consider this: IoT is nothing more than another way for you to solve your customers’ business problems. It’s a vehicle for addressing your customers’ pain points and erasing them.
Don’t look at IoT as a morass of technologies; that’s the easiest way to get freaked out. Instead, consider it as a new, innovative way to create a positive business outcome for your customers. It could be something as simple as using ID badges to store employee preferences for hot-desking: When an employee checks in to an open desk environment to work, whichever space he or she is assigned to will be ready with their personal desktop environment, their desk phone set up … even their chair set to their desired height and recline.
Or, it could be something more focused on the bottom line: Sensors added to machinery components that can “sense” if a piece of equipment is not working properly or close to failure, so companies can proactively service that machinery and reduce or mitigate downtime.
Chances are, if you’re a vendor in the IT space, your product or technology should be IoT-enabled. If it’s not, you’re losing money every day.
For those companies that are playing in the IoT space today, how are you helping your channel partners suit up and take the field? Are you having the IoT conversation with your channel partners? Are you educating them on the basics of IoT and how your technology fits into the IoT equation? Have you built an ecosystem of vendor partners with complementary technologies, to better help your channel partners build IoT solutions?
IoT is here to stay, and it won’t be too long until we reach the point where we couldn’t imagine life without it. Now is the time to make your mark – and help your channel partners find their footing.
Diane Krakora is CEO of PartnerPath with two decades of experience defining the best practices and frameworks around how to develop and manage partnerships.