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Can Internet of Things (IoT) Increase Partner, MSP Valuations?

Jan 4, 2017 by Joe Panettieri
Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O’Brien

During his time at Oracle, Kevin O’Brien helped hundreds of ISVs transition their applications from client-server systems to hosted and cloud services. Now at PTC, he’s empowering channel partners to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of them, he believes, will even develop their own IoT intellectual property — thereby boosting their business valuations.

O’Brien jumped from Oracle to PTC in April 2016. His current role: PTC’s VP of partner sales, Internet of Things. “IoT is an entrepreneur’s dream,” he asserts. “We’re giving people — including channel partners — the ability to stand up a software business with IoT capabilities in a matter of months.”

The PTC secret sauce includes home-grown technology and acquisitions. In particular, PTC acquired three well-known IoT technologies — ThingWorx, Axeda and Coldlight — to deliver a purpose built IoT Platform. The offerings speed IoT application development; ease and improve IoT system monitoring; and analyze IoT data to improve business performance and/or customer experiences.

IoT Partners: Higher Valuations?

While the IoT term can be overwhelming, O’Brien says PTC’s technology and focus vastly simplify the journey for partners.

A few examples: PTC is s seeking channel partners that dominate particular niches in their geographies. For instance, selected partners in Texas might be energy, oil and gas experts with deep domain expertise in the energy vertical. In that scenario, partners can leverage PTC’s technology to rapidly build IoT applications that monitor pipelines, refineries and more.

“I want to make sure I’m not keeping this a secret,” O’Brien says while referring to his top priority for 2017. “There are a lot of partners that have deep domain expertise who could be building apps and making money on those apps. If you want to increase the valuation multiplier on your business, what’s better than one or a handful of IoT applications that your company builds and owns?”

O’Brien could be onto something. MSPs are typically valued at about five to seven times EBITDA, according to ChannelE2E interviews with Service Leadership and other market watchers. But CSPs with their own intellectual property can be worth roughly 11 times EBITDA or even more, according to deals that ChannelE2E has tracked.

Admittedly, my discussion with O’Brien about IoT and partner valuations involved only a few minutes of chatter — rather than any extensive analysis. But it certainly got me thinking…

IoT Monitoring Services

Still, you don’t necessarily have to be an application developer to work with PTC’s IoT offerings. MSPs, in particular, also are ideal partners, he says. “MSPs typically have a set of people who are monitoring desktops, servers or applications,” he says. “So they are set up to keep track of physical objects or software applications. It’s not a far leap to get into into IoT monitoring services.”

Admittedly, O’Brien makes the journey to IoT sound easy. But even if you’re a bit skeptical consider this: During his previous tour of duty at Oracle, I heard from dozens of ISVs — some large, some small — that leveraged O’Brien’s guidance amid the journey from client-server to hosted and cloud systems.

No doubt, the current IoT journey can be complex. But O’Brien keeps pointing to the simplicity of PTC’s IoT application development tools. Much in the way that the early Win32 API allowed developers to focus on Windows applications rather than hardware, PTC’s tools offer a similar experience for IoT developers, he says.

We’ll be watching to see if partners cash in PTC’s IoT vision…

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