Channel Partners Expo talks monetizing the IoT
The annual Channel Partners Expo was recently held in Las Vegas, bringing together managed service providers (MSPs), value-added resellers (VARs) and a host of other integrators and service providers to talk trends, innovations and the direction in which cloud-forward businesses are going.
One common theme heard at many expo sessions was the increasing ways to move the IoT beyond hardware and connectivity, toward providing quantifiable business value for consumers and back-end operations. Some of the keys for cloud-forward businesses and industries to achieve this include tapping into the power of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and data analytics, as well as having channel partners who operate more as business partners than vendors.
Finding your niche
Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, gave one of the keynote presentations, called “Time for Action — 5 Key Truths the Channel Needs to Face About the Future.” She talked about the transformation of the channel partnership from transactional to consultative regarding cloud services, and the shift from being a reseller to an MSP.
To become a value-added partner, cloud service providers need to expand their expertise beyond simply providing general platforms and monitoring. She emphasized drilling down into sub-verticals to create that competitive advantage. The example she gave was instead of making healthcare your niche, pick an aspect within the industry, such as electronic medical records, and specialize there.
Extracting business value from M2M communications
Statista predicted that the global M2M industry will be valued at $199.6 billion by 2022. There was a lot of talk at Channel Partners about taking the leap from IoT devices simply communicating with each other to using those communication links to increase business value.
At the “Capitalizing on IoT: A Marriage of Technology and Business Objectives” session, Natasha Royer Coons, managing director of TeraNova Consulting Group, shared a number of real-world cases where back-end M2M data analytics were helping companies improve operations while reducing costs. She noted that the transportation industry has a federal mandate to implement electronic logging devices to track drivers and usage. This mandate provides the opportunity for fleet managers to use the predictive value of M2M data analytics regarding mileage, fuel usage and hours of service to better manage their fleets.
Royer Coons also shared that video devices and data will escalate significantly, especially in industries where safety and liability issues loom large, such as transportation and insurance. Like April’s advice in her keynote that MSPs need to take a consultative role, Royer Coons advised that those channel partners with the expertise to guide clients on using the IoT to increase revenues and improve their value to their end customers will enjoy a competitive advantage over the hardware-focused platform vendors.
Partners as people
This underlying theme of cloud service providers as business advisers was supported by findings in the 11th Annual PartnerPath Survey done in conjunction with Channel Partners. The survey findings were discussed by a panel that included PartnerPath CEO Diane Krakora.
Krakora said that of all the partner pillars surveyed, respondents said the most important driver of their overall partner experience was the ability to connect to the right people when needed, such as technical support teams. She explained that while partner account managers play a vital role, they aren’t enough to find engagement and growth with a channel partner, especially as cloud and managed services redefine business models.
The trend coming out of these panels was clear: As technological capabilities expand revenue opportunities and operational models, a company tasked with providing that technology also needs to be an active presence and provide expertise that ensures the technology will positively affect the bottom line.