More than half of Australian Managed Service Providers (MSPs) haven’t developed IOT strategies, a survey by cloud solutions distributor rhipe has found.

Rhipe surveyed 102 MSPs in August and September 2018 and found that only 19 percent of MSPs were actively working on IOT projects and saw the technology as a major opportunity.

The low level of IOT activity amongst MSPs isn’t necessarily due to lack of customer interest. In fact, 20 percent of MSPs had been asked about IOT by their customers, but still hadn’t developed IOT strategies.

Key reasons for the low level of IOT-preparedness include lack of early investment in IOT and understanding of the benefits, said Sridhar Deenadayalan, rhipe’s Azure Practice Head.

He said some MSPs don’t invest in IOT-related infrastructure, applications and skills until they finish “sweating” their existing assets and rethink their Infrastructure-as-a-Service-based business models.

But IOT is moving faster than that. “In spite of the complexity, IOT technology adoption is moving faster than we think,” Deenadayalan said.

Even when MSPs do invest in IOT practices, rhipe suggests that the outcome will be highly dependent on whether they take a consultative approach to uncover business benefits.

And while 41% of survey respondents had formal research and development plans, only 29% allocated time and money for technical and business research and development.

That could result in IOT solutions failing commercially, warns rhipe: “The risk is that technology research alone will result in great solutions looking for problems to solve, without the connection to business led outcomes.”

Despite these challenges, rhipe sees IOT as a lucrative opportunity. It sells Microsoft Azure services to MSPs, and will benefit from greater use of Azure for IOT projects.

It’s telling MSPs that they could earn higher margins from IOT work than for supplying commoditised IT. IOT also provides an opportunity for MSPs to develop more strategic relationships with customers, according to rhipe.

Deenadayalan urged MSPs to address these issues now, or find themselves quickly overwhelmed by IOT-related demands.

“People are trying to avoid and postpone, but adoption of IOT will happen surprisingly quickly. MSPs need to be ready, because they will see a lot more data,” he said.