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Internet of Things Market Forecast vs. Channel Reality

If you believe the forecasts, spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) will reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to IDC. My advice? Forget the numbers. Forget the forecasts. Whether it’s a $1 billion opportunity or $1.7 trillion opportunity, the mission for IT service providers is clear: IoT is an inflection point that will push you beyond traditional IT device monitoring and management. Instead, figure out a way to make use of all the data your customers will collect.

First, a reality check on IT market forecasts. Yes, I do believe IoT is a massive opportunity. But researchers are throwing just about every piece of IT into their IoT market forecasts — devices, connectivity, and IT services and more.

  • Does that mean networking switches, routers and WiFi — already established markets — are part of the “connectivity” forecast in IoT? Likely yes.
  • And what about devices? Does that mean traditional PCs, notebooks, tablets and smartphones are part of the IoT forecast? Sure sounds like it.

And that’s why the forecasts can be so misleading — a lot of what’s “new” is actually “old” stuff repackaged under the IoT umbrella.

The Internet of Things and IT Service Providers

Jay McBainSo where should IT service providers focus their efforts? ChannelEyes CEO Jay McBain describes 11 ways the channel will succeed with IoT. Generally speaking, McBain was way ahead of the curve on the IoT discussion — describing how all consumer appliances (and more) would eventually gain IP addresses. That’s not revolutionary… until you consider that McBain shared those views about five years ago.

My spin on IoT? IT service providers have to push beyond a “device” management mindset. Of course, you need to manage and monitor everything that connects to your customers’ networks. But more importantly, you also need to help customers decide a few things:

  • Where will sensor networks fit into the equation? What data will the sensors collect remotely — and what data (if any) will those sensors send back to the parent network?
  • How will all that data be gathered, managed, optimized, stored, safeguarded and monetized?
  • And perhaps most importantly: What will you, as an IT service provider, do to help customers leverage that data for real business insights?

Internet of Things: Real Examples Today

Those steps may sound futuristic but they’re actually unfolding now. Here are two examples:

  • LogicNow recently unveiled LOGICcards, a big data system that extends through MSP networks out to customer endpoints. LOGICcards gathers data from those customer systems, and then helps MSPs predict when customers will need to make adds, moves, changes, upgrades and other changes to the system. Basically, LogicNow is trying to promote LOGICcards as a platform for customer up-sells and cross sells.
  • Keep an eye on Invisible Media, a startup mobile marketing platform. As retailers increasingly embrace sensor networks, digital payment options (Apple Pay) and other in-store systems, Invisible Media is layering in a software system that makes sense of all the data, organizes it into analytics, and assists retailers with marketing automation.

I don’t necessarily believe lofty financial forecasts. But I do believe the IoT wave is just as big as the cloud wave. If you think about it, IoT and mobile are close cousins. While mobile was device and app centric, IoT will be data centric… And the data opportunity is massive.

She who makes sense of the data will profit from the data. Why not you?

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