The Internet of Things has long been on the channel's radar, and to hear ScanSource CTO Greg Dixon tell it, many of the most eye-catching applications for technology integrators remain in the "science project" phase.
However, Dixon believes solution providers are closer than ever to visualizing how IoT can help their customers achieve specific business outcomes. He said the Greenville, S.C.-based distributor is approaching the day when it can arm partners with those capabilities, too, now that master agent Intelisys is in the fold.
"The big piece that comes from our relationship with Intelisys is the connectivity," Dixon told CRN. "We now have all these connectivity companies. We can now make money on every single piece of a solution. IoT is no exception."
Many partners remain skeptical of IoT's potential, Dixon admitted, and those pursuing it find themselves tasked with navigating some complex engineering and development work. There's also the challenge of finding practical IoT applications within target ScanSource verticals (including retail, health care, transportation, manufacturing, and distribution) that can result in straightforward business outcomes such as lowering operations costs or increasing regulatory compliance.
In large hospitals, for instance, IoT allows nurses to track the real-time location of high-value assets such as blood pumps via sensors. That data can then be anonymized across hospital networks and synthesized within an analytics engine, Dixon said, that helps health care providers optimize their bloom pump expenses.
A data analytics partnership remains one of the key missing pieces in ScanSource's IoT quest.
"We need a raw analytics engine partnership," Dixon said. "That's a part of the solutions stack. If we can solve everything else, I'm confident we'll have all of the solutions stack components in place."
Once concrete use cases are established, Dixon said the company would filter its plan into "consumable" pieces and provide partner training via an IoT solutions engineer.
"He'll help you conceive what this is going to take, where to mount the sensor, how to communicate this thing," he said. "With our help, we can start to actually solve business problems and create business outcomes that really do affect [customers]."
As the distributor pushes partners to pursue more recurring revenue streams – an often difficult transition for businesses built around hardware transactions – the company sees an upside: They can build their IoT practices from the ground up and sell solutions straight to line-of-business decision-makers.