Addressing the big reasons companies are hesitating to deploy IoT solutions can help solution providers get a foot in the door.
The opportunities ahead in the Internet of Things market are huge, and the size of the IoT universe continues to expand.
As solution providers ramp up in IoT, bigger infrastructure deals and longer-term technology spending may follow. Vendors need to stay ahead of the game by making sure they have adequate channel programs and channel marketing budgets that are specifically targeting IoT.
Gartner is projecting that there will be 20.4 billion "things" connected by 2020. This year alone, the research firm said hardware spending on connected things among businesses would be more than $964 billion worldwide.
The business benefit for all those connected things is more data, better insight, more efficiency and smoother operations. CompTIA's research report, "Planning a Modern IT Architecture," noted that 61 percent of companies with IoT in use report that IoT allows them to extend technology into broader organizational objectives.
Because a real IoT strategy requires managing a complex set of technologies, services and business model adjustments, some enterprises have been hesitant to go all-in on IoT. CompTIA's research has found that some of the top barriers to IoT adoption have included upfront costs, lack of IoT expertise on staff, new cybersecurity risks and interoperability with existing systems.
The good news, for channel partners, is that these IoT pain points are clear opportunities for solution providers to step in and prove their worth.
Channel partners told CRN that making a good business case for IoT involves targeting specific business problems and bringing in staff with the right balance of IoT skill and entrepreneurial savvy.
"IoT has a real impact on a company’s bottom line, so when we sell to customers we have to get them to first realize they have a problem that can be solved with an IoT solution, and then we have to be able to deliver value quickly, in a matter of weeks, not months, to achieving objectives," Reed Wiedower, CTO at New Signature, a Microsoft partner based in Washington, D.C., told CRN.
The security risks and interoperability concerns that IoT can cause also provide channel partners with a real chance to have customer conversations about their underlying IT infrastructure.
Thirty-three percent of companies in CompTIA’s most recent security skills survey indicate that security is a significantly higher priority for them today than it was two years ago. Solution providers can't ignore that as they design IoT solutions.
Also, partners have said that the need for data storage and the benefits of cloud computing can give solution providers some additional IoT-enabled sales opportunities.
"We've sold storage for internally-hosted projects," said Jim VanderMey, chief innovation officer at Open Systems Technologies, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based solution provider. "AWS and Azure capabilities are amazing and increasing all the time. Keeping up with those offerings in the IoT space and helping customers stay up to date is part of our business model. The natural affinity for IoT is a cloud-based storage platform."
"For channel partners, helping customers figure out what they should be doing with all that IoT data and how to justify that investment will help customers not just cut costs, but also drive business values," said Rich Karpinski, research director at 451 Research.