Today’s always-on business demand is putting more pressure on, and placing more obstacles in front of modern organizations than ever before. Companies today must balance increasing data connectivity, IT uptime and performance with tighter budgets, all while managing end-user demands for immediate access to information, anywhere and at any time.
So what does this mean for key VARs, MSPs and channel partners in the IT space? The answer is simple – forge ahead. It is critical that partners continue along the path they are on, do more of what they are already doing and further cultivate their relationships with IT decision makers in order to evolve with customer needs. One of the biggest opportunities and challenges currently top-of-mind for many partners and manufacturers is the monumental transformation driven by the Internet of Things (IoT) and how to make existing offers relevant to a customers’ ever changing needs.
Early Adoption of IoT
The IoT continues to generate significant buzz. Some partners have proactively begun to create innovative solutions for unique customer challenges, while others have begun to frame new business units and offers to cater to this increased connectivity. However, overall adoption of IoT is still nascent. IoT manifests itself differently in every industry, and partners are focused on gaining a better understanding of how IoT best fits into their business plans, as well as how to monetize it.
IoT managed services present a variety of unique opportunities, as well as challenges when compared to conventional managed services. While IoT is incredibly complex, a defined approach to better understanding its impact on IT should focus on both IT and Operational Technology (OT).
IT & IoT: The Increased Sprawl
When evaluating the implications of IoT on IT, localized edge environments are expanding immensely. This increased “sprawl” of edge environments can be attributed to a variety of factors, including:
- Decreased latency
- Better bandwidth
- Enhanced cybersecurity
- Data homogenization intelligence
- Government compliance regulations
- On-line/off-line data access
With this emerging edge computing approach, there is a need to comprehensively manage these environments using power managed services and data center infrastructure management (DCIM) software solutions to provide proactive maintenance of IT systems. For partners, there is an opportunity to alleviate the IT burden on their customers.
OT & IoT: Learn to “Talk the Talk”
In the age of the IoT, the relationship between IT and OT to IoT are equally important, but OT opens a whole new world of offers, which partners can sell, service and manage for their customers. OT requires different considerations, particularly as the OT needs of each organization tend to be highly customized. Most often, the demand becomes increasingly vertical-specific, so any partner who wants to start selling into IoT applications needs to be comfortable “talking the talk” of the end customer’s business. Vertical industries of all types and sizes are deploying IoT solutions, and at this stage, partners need to determine which verticals to focus on. The partners that lead the next wave of innovation will focus on the depth of knowledge in specific verticals, rather than trying to become an expert across all of them.
Deepening Relationship: Partners and Manufacturers
In order to monetize the IoT, partners will need to leverage manufacturers to provide them with the relevant offers, tools, trainings and professional ecosystems needed to take advantage of the IoT elements that best fit their business model. Simultaneously, manufacturers will need a larger commitment from partners—mainly in the form of time—to help them become proficient in these new systems and tools. Moving forward, partners and manufacturers will rely on each other like never before.
Broaden Your Horizons
While the IT department is often implementing IoT systems, they are not the primary force driving the shift to IoT within organizations. The decision-making process for most of these applications is more complicated than traditional IT implementations.
To succeed, partners and manufacturers need to broaden their horizons and work more closely with personnel outside of the IT department. Over the coming months and years, we will experience a shift in the type (and number) of potential decision makers and influencers that will have a stake in the process.
IoT consultants, electrical contractors, mechanical contractors, plant managers, data center managers and many others will follow the lead of C-level decision makers looking to use technology innovations as a key driver of broader business goals. Beyond just learning the new technology involved in IoT managed services, partners need to understand what the engagement process looks like and ideally, expand outside of their traditional IT networks and into more diversified business areas to help strengthen customer engagement.
Turning to a Partner is No Longer a Maybe, It’s a Must
For businesses facing today’s digital access economy challenges and those that lack the resources to run IT in-house, turning to a partner is no longer a “maybe,” it is a “must.” The benefits that partners provide translate into reliable IT maintenance at an affordable cost, enabling today’s digital organizations to keep up with the growing demand of always-on business, while keeping financial expenditures in check.