As the Internet of Things (IoT) gradually shifts from aspiration to reality, managed service providers (MSPs) should be paying attention to new market opportunities. The IoT is primarily a vertical play, with purpose-built applications that will address the specialized needs of companies in specific industries.
Certain verticals, including retail, healthcare, education, manufacturing and government, already are making significant investments in IoT, as they seek to turn raw data collected by sensors and monitors in the field into actionable information. Organizations that figure out early how to tame their raw data will pull ahead of the pack.
Like cloud services and the internet, the IoT promises to have a profound impact on our lives. It will transform how business is conducted thanks to technology advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to automate processes that improve efficiencies and enhance the user experience.
For MSPs, the IoT is a ticket to future profitability. This isn’t the time to be change-averse, as MSPs and channel partners in general tend to be when we reach the cusp of another transformation. At such times, change may be scary, but it’s unavoidable.
This is the time to cram– learn as much as you can about the technologies, find out what solutions are already in the market, determine which have a good fit for your business, and start developing an IoT strategy. For many MSPs, the IoT play may center on edge computing, which places the compute and analytical power close to the action, where users handle data to make real-time, impactful decisions.
As MSPs assess their readiness for IoT and plan their strategies, one important consideration is deciding which verticals to invest in. While some solutions such as cybersecurity applications and disaster recovery services can be applied horizontally, a lot of the data capture and analysis applications will have functionality specific to a company and industry.
Here are some examples of vertical-focused IoT technologies already in place:
Retailers are employing IoT-related technologies myriad ways, from installing AR mirrors in fitting rooms to deploying sensors throughout stores for various purposes. In one instance, a department store is using motion sensors, pressure mats and cameras to track and analyze customer movements to identify opportunities for customer engagement and prevent shoplifting.
K-12 school districts have started deploying IoT sensors to track supplies and equipment and control temperature, humidity and air quality in school buildings. IP-connected video surveillance systems are helping to combat vandalism, violence and other security concerns. In one case, a school used a hyper-converged edge computing model to provide affordable connectivity and digital resources from a monitored, secure, temperature-controlled modular structure.
IoT technology isn’t exactly new in healthcare; hospitals have been using wireless and scanning technology for years to keep track of patients and assets, such as beds and wheelchairs. But the technology is being refined and applied in more ways. Common uses of IoT in patient care so far include IP-connected pacemakers, glucose monitors and wristbands that can be scanned electronically to capture – and confirm – patient information. Hospitals also use technology to remotely monitor temperatures in refrigerators that store donated blood to avoid spoilage.
In government, IoT is being deployed for various functions, including smart traffic management and parking to improve traffic flow. Some cities have introduced mobile apps to notify residents of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes and events such a road closures. Government agencies also are starting to use sensors in flooding-prone areas to alert residents when water levels rise so they can take precautions.
In each of these use cases, there are opportunities for MSPs to deliver, monitor and maintain IoT environments. Organizations will need help from experts such as MSPs so they can focus on the core business. To learn more about IoT and edge computing technologies, click here.