What will the Internet of Things mean for the channel?

The Internet of Things has been getting increasing media coverage recently. It’s the concept that we’re going to move from the Internet being about person to person communication as it largely has been to date to device to device communication, where machines communicate data to each other.

Cisco has boldly stated that they believe 50 billion devices will communicate via the Internet and they’ve put a prospective business value on this of $14 trillion by 2022[1].

Now even if that prediction is only 10% accurate – a trillion dollars of business including 5 billion devices to be sold and deployed could be transformational for a lot of businesses.

With that in mind, I’ve been wondering how can the channel ensure that it’s best placed to be a winner in the Internet of Things.

If we consider the basic building blocks of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a starting point: There will be the device level with sensors and new networked connected devices that organizations will need to gather the data. Then there will be need to be the networking and connectivity layer to ensure the data is successfully harvested from the device level. Then there will be the data storage requirements and the data analysis software and applications that will create business insights and value from all this data being collected.

Taking this simplistic view, it’s easy to see that there will be channel opportunities across all of the component parts for customers who implement Internet of Things solutions. However, right now it’s very early days. This means that devices are not yet coming to market on a scale or breadth to mean the opportunities are immediate. Obviously, there is an increasing range of Smart Infrastructure products including our own and we at Schneider Electric will seek to continue to be at the forefront in the industries and product categories we operate in. The networking layer is already a strong and dynamic global industry and the Internet of Things will likely see new types of networking and connectivity emerge during the next few years. Also software including applications and business information systems will evolve rapidly to extract the value from the data.

It’s likely to mean that channel opportunities will include helping customers deliver solutions as opposed to selling them products as delivering Internet of Things solutions is fundamentally a solution proposition. There is also like to be a range of convergence opportunities that will require re-thinking and re-engineering solutions over a range of product categories. All of this will require education for staff that ensures businesses have the knowledge needed to help customers transition their infrastructure to realize the benefits of the Internet of Things in their businesses.

So where does that leave channel businesses today? Well I think it makes your choice of strategic partners more important than ever. Acknowledged leaders in the areas related to the Internet of Things are in a primary position to help drive this new type of Internet. Ensuring you have the right partnerships and vendor relationships should enable your business to best placed to take advantage of opportunities from the Internet of Things.

Additionally it also makes sense to think about your customer base and identify those customers that are mostly like to embrace this new change to drive new efficiencies and value out of their own businesses. Beginning a dialogue, building your knowledge, and identifying key partners will all help you position yourself for success.

[1] Source Cisco Whitepaper: Embracing the Internet of Everything to Capture Your Share of $14.4 Trillion, 2013

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