Focus on the use of real-time data and the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing. And as IoT usage increases, so will the need for IoT solution providers.

Australia has hundreds of businesses selling business computing products, and some are playing an important role in the uptake of IoT in Australia.

But IoT is not every small-to-medium IT business’s cup of tea. That may be because they don’t see significant demand. Or they may not be geared to integrating hardware, software, connectivity and cloud to solve business problems. And some may not be comfortable dealing with air conditioning systems, industrial machinery or other aspects of IoT.

Nevertheless, Microsoft Australia IoT Lead Matt Sinclair sees an opportunity for more of these businesses to play a role in the sale of IoT solutions.

“I think that [IT] channel partners are one of the best partners to grab the IoT opportunity, because of the access they have to partners across the entire stack,” Sinclair says.

“We’re constantly talking about how IoT is not a single company solution. And the IT channel has all these partners that can pull together to construct solutions,” he comments.

Microsoft has hundreds of IT partners in Australia. They includes development partners, which integrate Microsoft software and cloud products with third party solutions, partners selling Azure infrastructure and services, and distributors or “solution aggregators”, which can bring these components together as end-to-end solutions for vertical markets.

One IoT hurdle these businesses face is choosing products and partners. “I think one of the challenges they’ve had in the past is there are so many products and solutions available through partners they work with. How do you identify the partner you want to work with? How do you identify the highest value solution that you can push through your channel?” Sinclair says.

IT businesses are often too broad in their approach to IoT, in Sinclair’s opinion. "If you try and get solutions that address all customer sizes and all industries, you’ll never going to find the right piece," he says.

He encourages them to start with one or two focussed IoT partnerships – like the one between Perth IoT solution vendor COREIoT and IT distributor Ingram Micro. Ingram Micro has agreed to distribute the Perth business’s asset tracking, workforce management and remote condition monitoring solutions. Watch this clip to see spokespeople explain the thinking behind the partnership.

The partnership followed COREIoT’s attendance at the Microsoft IoT in Action partner event in Sydney in 2019. After the event, Microsoft introduced COREIoT to some of its partners, which led to the Ingram Micro deal.

“They knew that they had customers in that mid-size range who were chasing things like condition monitoring and asset tracking – very specific groups and audience and very specific challenges. And that’s why I think why the relationship blossomed, because they had a very clear idea of what problem they were solving,” Sinclair says.

The partnership gives COREIoT greater reach in Australia. And COREIoT’s turnkey solutions help Ingram Micro simplify IoT for its partners and their customers, according to the distributor.

Cloud connections

In Sinclair’s view, IT distributors and resellers also have another advantage when it comes to IoT: partnerships with cloud providers. Cloud can connect multiple IoT solutions and enable users to make the most of IoT data.

“The fact that COREIoT [solutions are] built on Azure means there are ways to export data means there are ways to expand that into a data estate, and ways for customers to add their own value [to the data],” Sinclair says.

“I’m actually getting a lot of requests from customers at the moment who have invested in single IoT solutions by themselves for two or three years, and now they’re realising the frustration of a siloed solution. They’re actively investing in a data estate to break out of that siloed solution.

The benefit of partnering with Microsoft and the Azure cloud is customers come to us and ask, ‘How do we broaden our data estate and break out of these siloes?’” Sinclair says.

Starting small

The IT sales channel is also well-placed to help IoT start-ups, Sinclair argues. It has the resources to help start-ups sell to lots of small customers – he sees that as a better start-up strategy than focussing all efforts on winning one big deal.

“If I work with a partner like Ingram and they open the door to 50 smaller companies, and I can give them 20 hours each and help them get started, I can scale much quicker than if I’m spinning cycles trying to land a deal with the big companies,” Sinclair comments.

He’s not seeing many start-ups take this path, yet. “I’m simply not seeing [IoT start-ups] wanting to hit that smaller end of the market, which to me is a little frustrating because there’s so much opportunity there,” he says.

Those opportunities may increase if IoT adoption grows. If that happens, local IoT sales channels and partners will be important.

Watch this clip to see Ingram Micro and COREIoT explain the thinking behind their IoT partnership.

Article sponsored by Microsoft.