Channel technologies, MSP

Smart Building IoT Managed Services Show Promise

Within the commercial real estate market, smart building managed services are beginning to take hold for some niche applications. And yes, MSPs are moving into the market with an eye toward the Internet of Things (IoT).

A prime example: BuildingIQ has launched a managed services platform for predictive energy optimization. That platform uses algorithms and predictive analytics to automatically reduce heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) operations in commercial buildings.

The key takeaways:

  • Low Value: Monitoring new types of endpoints will become important for RMM (remote monitoring and management) software platforms. But much like mobile device management (MDM), there won't be much money or margin here for MSPs.
  • Far Higher Value: But the far higher value opportunity involves managing and monetizing all the data those sensors gather. In other words, MSPs have to make sure sensor data gets gathered, stored, managed, optimized, safeguarded and monetized in somebody's cloud.

True believers in BuildingIQ include more than a dozen channel partners and MSPs. For instance, AtSite is a smart buildings company located in Washington, D.C. The company optimizes and modernizes building facilities and real estate across several verticals -- including healthcare, commercial real estate, and education.

AtSite promotes Insite, a managed building intelligence solution. It supports remote visual inspection of building conditions. And it collects environmental data including temperature, humidity, pressure, light and sound. We're double checking to see how AtSite and BuildingIQ are going to market together.

Smart Buildings vs. Consumer Internet of Things

I'm certainly not suggesting that the smart building niche is an opportunity for all MSPs. But I do think MSPs should carefully consider the smart building landscape as part of a potential IoT (Internet of Things) strategy.

Think of it this way: Where will an MSP in 2020 likely make more money?...

  1. In the consumer market, managing a range of sensors and devices for demanding customers who have a habit of breaking technology and complain endlessly about poor service.
  2. In the corporate market, managing industrial IoT devices and sensors for businesses that are willing to pay premiums for services that (A) ultimately save energy, (B) improve customer satisfaction, (C) reduce customer churn and (D) bolster system reliability.

I'll take curtain number two.

MSPs Must Embrace Industrial IoT

I concede: I've written your options in a way that makes readers lean toward the corporate market, where industrial IoT solutions are increasingly the norm. While I'm intrigued by consumer IoT efforts like Apple HomeKit and Google Brillo, I think the MSP opportunity is emerging more quickly and more clearly in the corporate market.

In addition to emerging managed services platforms from BuildingIO, keep an eye on big cloud-based IoT platforms like Cisco Systems Jasper, Amazon AWS IoT, GE Predix, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Salesforce IoT Cloud. Plus, don't overlook the Top 100 Internet of Things startups.

It's early in the smart building and IoT game. But if I had to bet on consumer vs. corporate IoT opportunities over the next three to five years... I'd bet the house on corporate opportunities.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.