Avnet® Technology Solutions


IoT: 3 Ways channel partners can develop an Internet of Things practice

10 January 2018:
Craig Smith, Director IoT, Cognitive Computing and Analytics

Craig Smith

Director IoT,
Cognitive Computing and Analytics
Tech Data Advanced Solutions

Craig Smith, Director IoT & Analytics Solutions and Services, Tech Data Europe, outlines three simple steps to an IoT practice

The commercial opportunities for the Internet of Things (IoT) are huge. Having initially found success in the consumer space with applications such as connected heating systems, the technology is now transforming certain enterprise verticals. Gartner predicts that ‘smart machines’ will enter mainstream adoption by 2021, driving spending on consulting and system integration services from $451 million in 2016 to nearly $29 billion in 2021[i]. From smart buildings, smart cities to healthcare monitors and smart prescription management, the appetite for connected devices shows no signs of abating, due to the benefits that real-time data visibility can deliver.

The continued growth of the market has led to changes in the analytics, networking and security infrastructure to deal with vast amounts of data. These changes will provide the perfect storm of opportunities for the channel.

Here are three ways channel partners can develop an IoT practice and jumpstart their growth:

1. Fill gaps with IoT kits without a large upfront investment

An “IoT Tool Kit” offers a suite of products and services that are already integrated to form some part of an IoT solution. For instance, it could be around sensor technology, IoT connectivity solutions, management platforms, data analytics, machine learning and cognitive applications, through to IoT service constructs. When it comes to IoT kits, channel customers have two options. You can look to invest and build your own IoT kit, or you can take the various IoT kits already built by an IT distributor. The advantage here is that it will be production ready and you won’t need to make a large upfront investment. Many partners in fact take a distributors IoT kit and build upon it so they have something unique to take to market.

2. Be part of a robust IoT ecosystem to carve out new revenue streams

IoT requires many different skills to pull everything together from the sensors at the edge of the solution to the analytics and applications at the core.  Having all the skills in house is a big ask for most channel partners. IT distributors, such as Tech Data, can provide the necessary skills through its global scale and scope, however most channel partners don’t have the resources of a global 500 organisation at their disposal. Tech Data is building up an ecosystem of partners who are experts in their own areas of IoT and there is an opportunity for channel partners to become an important part of this eco-system. This doesn’t always have to be technically based. There is a requirement for sales focused channel partners too. For instance, IoT projects start with an excellent sales team which can credibly sit round a table with a board of directors and explain the business reasons for undertaking a sizable business transformation.

Through active collaboration, partners can minimise barriers to entry, adapt quickly to market changes and reduce complexity for the customer by collectively delivering an end-to-end solution.

By fostering relationships through the ecosystem with organisations that offer complementary products and services, business partners can carve out new revenue streams, enabling them to access and thrive within a profitable and fast-moving market.

3. Establish your IoT timeline and connect with distribution

IoT projects in businesses of all sizes are ramping up as companies increase their adoption of internet connected devices. IoT projects can appear daunting at first. Often a lot of work goes into planning and assessing the financial commitments to be made. Is the overhaul going to interfere with the use of existing systems and can new technologies be successfully integrated? Partners think about these questions just as much as their customers do. An IoT timeline enables channel partners to visualise their journey towards building a practice, thereby accelerating time to market. Then with this in mind, it is about reaching out to your IT distributor to fill the skills gaps over that period. Channel customers with good links to their distributor can really benefit from access to a strong IoT team.  It makes the process of building an IoT practice much smoother. Even having access to several live IoT applications that partners can showcase to customers can save so much upfront time and investment.

It’s clear that IoT offers many exciting opportunities, from increased efficiency to enhanced customer engagement. Now is the time for businesses to get involved. The transformation process and onboarding of new IoT technologies presents a major challenge. Technology partners have a crucial role to play in guiding businesses and helping them navigate the challenges they may face on their way to success.

To find out more, contact the Azlan next generation team or visit


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