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 doesn't it? If you're Starbucks or The Gap or some other huge retailer, maybe your customers will download an app just for your store. If you're a local retailer, it's tough to get that sort of behavior. And even if you're a willing consumer, keeping 20 or 30 of these apps sounds like a space waster at best. IoT is replete with examples where standards would make sense. It's also thick with vendors who can't see past their parochial interests, and so standards work is painfully slow. From the IEEE to the IETF to ITU, there are working groups set up, but with limited outcomes expected. A path seen by many as a better bet: Create a standard for doing something that needs doing, then throw the idea into the public domain. By making a specification free and open, the hope is that it will become a de facto standard — altBeacon is one such effort. Radius wrote and published the standard; now all it need s is adoption. Sounds great until you run into some behemoth that prefers its own way of doing things — say, Apple a nd its iBeacon. The trick for channel partners is to realize when an IoT technology has gotten to the point where standards are solid enough that there's money to be made with little risk to customers, but not so solid that competition is rampant. We're focusing on that effort with our IoT track at this year's Channel Partners Conference & Expo, and plenty of your vendor partners also have packaged offerings. S ome advice: HELP CUSTOMERS ACCURATELY JUDGE HOW MUCH BAND- WIDTH THEY'LL NEED AND THE COST. While IoT technologies strive to limit the amount of traffic, doing as much processing on the edge as possible, the investment in sensors and apps does no good without connec- tivity. "When you buy through us, we've negotiated one price so customers can take advantage of discounts," says Altaworx's Richie, citing 30 percent savings on average. Some customers have overshot and will probably pull back, he says, but in other cases, the M2M systems will prove valuable enough that customers will expand an d add capacity. FOCUS ON ADDING VALUE AS A TRUSTED ADVISER. Richie admits it took his company several years to refine its IoT business; he says the secret to success is selling a complete solution tailored to a customer's needs, even if you have to source elements from various suppliers. It may be tough to get in the door, but once you're there, the business is highly sticky. "Say you're a customer who has a specialized app; you can't go online and Google a different provider," he says. "It's not like UC. When it comes to M2M, you can't even tell what different people do." Besides connectivity, there are IoT middleware providers, analytics specialists, device OEMs, security firms — what customer, especially in the SMB and midmarket, is going to have the expertise or time to pull together an IoT solution? Not many, and that spells profit. GO WHERE THE MONEY IS. BI Intelligence says that manufacturing and logistics will be big IoT adopters in the near term, with manufacturers investing $140 billion in the next five years and logistics close behind, at $112 billion. Health care and retail are other rich markets. DON'T NEGLECT SECURITY AND DATA OWNERSHIP. Early industrial implementations often communi- cated over proprietary networks, reducing the risk of snooping. IoT uses standards-based IP networks, and we've already seen instances of IoT-enabled toys offering attackers a way to steal customer data, even spy on children. Our recent report on IoT security suggests tactics to protect customer data; at minimum you need encryption for IoT data in transit and at rest, asset and device management and authentication, a way to validate the security of apps, and policies around privacy. Consider that 69 percent of U.S. consumers think they should own the personal data gener- ated by their Internet-connected devices, according to Cisco. Let's close with a few more numbers. An Economist report says business executives recognize the potential of the IoT to deliver long-term revenue growth, but just 38 percent think their companies' senior leaders fully understand the technology. Most, 84 percent, say the IoT could represent new, service- based income streams, but just 7 percent have developed a compre- hensive strategy. T ime to go sell. Art Wittmann is vice president of the Business Technology Network for Informa Knowledge & Networking. linkedin.com/in/artwittmann @artwittmann IoT is replete with examples where standards would make sense. It's also thick with vendors who can't see past their pa- rochial interests, so standards work is painfully slow. From the IEEE to the IETF to ITU, there are working groups set up, but with limited outcomes expected. A better bet: Create a standard for doing something that needs doing, then throw it into the public do- main. 26 CHANNEL PARTNERS DIGITAL ISSUE SPRING 2016

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