Channel Partners

SPR 2016

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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COVER STORY be proactive friends (whose kids still get to go to good schools; let's face it, they've got us). The positive side of this for plumbing companies is that data allows logistics apps to manage the efficient deployment of trucks and crews. They may not get to charge golden-time rates, but they should be able to consistently fully utilize their staff. Homeowners benefit from never dealing with a nasty seep of stench. Companies with small fleets can enjoy other benefits. Insurance companies can now monitor driving patterns and adjust rates based on measured behavior. I've been on the receiving end of one of these devices for my personal car insurance. Being accident free and having just one speeding ticket in the last 15 years or so, I figured lower rates would be a sure thing — I'm a great driver. THE NEW HOUSE CALL: For agents in the health care vertical, remote patient monitoring is a hot market. AT&T, for e xample, provides a SaaS- and IoT-based monitoring platform that enables clinicians to launch video conference calls with patients if problems are detected by in-home wireless medical peripherals. Maybe not so much. I was told my rate could have gone down as much as 30 percent, but my insurer measured my performance for a month and said I rated just a 15 percent reduction. Too many fast starts and stops; they've labelled me safe, but aggressive. Guilty as charged. Fleet owners can get the same sort of analysis and, potentially, discounts. It's also pretty easy to set up GPS tracking on vehicles. On the extreme side, companies like FedEx configure routes so that drivers almost never make left turns. Insurance companies like that, since left turns are much more accident prone, and they can take more time to complete. For small companies, simple route planning can save fuel and help monitor what employees to do with company vehicles. Municipalities can track snowplow drivers to see which streets are clear and make sure contractors aren't parked somewhere drinking coffee while on the clock. This is certainly the sort of thing agents can help with. As always, you just need to know what's possible and with whom to partner. You set the project up, and application experts take it from there. Make no mistake, plenty of vendors are in this hunt. Your small-business customers will soon find that almost every capital item they buy wants to phone home. That way, manufacturers not only make the big one-time sale, they also get some recurring revenue along with invaluable data on how their products are used. The benefit to the buyer should be smoother opera- tion of important equipment and just- in-time maintenance. Who wouldn't pay $20 a month per system for that? The main challenge, of course, is that as businesses grow over time they'll be under multiple contacts, sometimes with the same provider, paying different rates and possibly shelling out for maintenance moni- toring on systems no longer in use. Sound familiar? Billing rationaliza- tion is a business as old as the channel, and it'll be an important service as IoT go es mainstream. WHAT'S MISSING? If you take a few minutes with Google to explore IoT, you'll see those dollar figures in the trillions tossed around regularly. The other thing you'll find are scads of articles talking about what's holding IoT back. The big answer, in a word, is standards. Take beacons, a very cool technology that's all the rage in retail. A report from BI Intelligence estimates that beacon-triggered messages from platforms like Freckle IoT directly influenced up to $4.1 billion in U.S. store sales in 2015, with that figure growing tenfold this year. Beacons, in concept, are as simple as can be. They use a somewhat recent variant of the Bluetooth standard that draws less power and is suitable only for data transmissions, not voice. That means battery-powered beacons can run unattended for months. The idea is elegant and powerful: A shopper walks into a store, restaurant STANDARDS WATCHDOG In an effort to encourage IoT standards, AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel formed the Industrial Internet Consortium in 2014. The group now includes 230 members, including Dell, Ericsson, HPE, Microsoft, Oracle and Symantec. Notably missing: Apple and Verizon. While the IIC doesn't develop standards itself, it does look to "influence the global standards development process for internet and industrial systems to improve the integration of the digital and physical worlds," from location of sensor devices to data e xchange, storage and predictive analytics. GE says that the "Industrial Internet" (its term for IoT) will add $10 to $15 trillion to global GDP by 2035. 22 CHANNEL PARTNERS DIGITAL ISSUE SPRING 2016

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