Tech Data Executive: Retail, Smart Lighting Are the Strongest IoT Entry Points For the Channel

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Partners looking to break into the Internet of Things should pursue offerings around temperature monitoring and smart lighting, according to a Tech Data IoT practice leader. 

The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor said the channel has a tremendous opportunity to provide smaller, regional retail franchises with smart devices to monitor the temperature in the freezers and coolers where food is stored, said Michelle Curtis, Tech Data's senior manager of smart IoT solutions for the Americas.

Networking partners can also go beyond connecting a building to providing Power over Ethernet lighting and additional network controls, Curtis said. From there, Curtis said partners can move toward end-to-end connectivity by tying in the energy management from the temperature monitoring to the smart lighting solution.

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"The network and the connectivity are the first step in pulling data out of these connected devices," Curtis said during distributor's Channel Link event in National Harbor, Md.

As the channel builds up its IoT capabilities, Curtis said partners can handle everything from the sensors that go into the cooler, to the gateway or access points, to providing a management dashboard on the application side of things.

Retail lends itself to solution providers newer to IoT since it doesn't require much assessment or custom design services, Curtis said. Instead, partners can typically take a pre-packaged IoT-ready solution to their customers and deploy.

"I think the potential for partners to be involved with retail is a lot larger."

Tech Data launched its IoT practice in July 2016, and is working with 60 IoT-savvy channel partners in the Americas toady, Curtis said. The distributor has thus far invested most heavily in its industrial IoT practice, and Curtis said some partners have grown their practices by 200 percent in that space.

Curtis said Tech Data would like to have 2,000 channel partners capable of delivering IoT solutions across the board, with a particular emphasis on retail. Tech Data has more than 30 employees dedicated to IoT and analytics, Curtis said. 

"For partners that have a managed services practice today, this is a great way for them to introduce a new managed service to take to market," Curtis said.

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