OT, IT And IoT: KMC Controls Navigates New Opportunities Across Converging Channels

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to take over enterprise building automation and manufacturing, creating lots of opportunity for the channel. As it does, KMC Controls is bringing together two very different worlds: Its existing operational technology (OT) partners, who specialize in the physical aspects of building control, like lighting and energy automation, and IT technology partners, who handle computing hardware, software and networking technology.

At the KMC Genius Summit this week in Chicago, Illinois, KMC Controls is showing off its Commander IoT platform, a perfect example of OT and IT worlds colliding. The Commander, created with Dell hardware and Intel chips, helps bridge the gap between traditional building automation and the world of IoT. It communicates with sensors and IoT devices, stores and secures data and allows a site administrator to run a building more efficiently and safely.

KMC Controls hopes IT channel partners see the potential sales platforms like Commander can generate. The challenge will be foster communication between KMC Controls' existing OT partners and new IT channel relationships.

’I think there’s definitely a blurring of the lines [between IT and OT], and solution providers are being pulled into OT opportunities because of client relationships,’ Richard Newberry, chairman advisor of New Paris, Indiana-based KMC Controls, told CRN. ’Now if we have approved IT providers, our OT players can now bring in and subcontract an IT provider – if they have the relationship with the customer, why not sell them computers, or servers, or whatever it may be, and then sub[contract] it out?’

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[Related: KMC Controls Calls On IT Providers To Become A New Channel For Its Internet Of Things Platform]

KMC Controls is a classic OT company. It has been in the building controls industry since 1969, and supplies a full lineup of traditional building controls with IoT connectivity and native Commander support. The company has sold its products through an operational technology channel – made up of controls and mechanical contractors. But Newberry said Commander will appeal to both IT and OT partners as a means of better blending IT and operational technology functions in IoT solutions.

’We’re looking to open a new channel, and that’s the IT providers, with providing them with Commander. We’ll be bringing more offerings to the IT channels, and the same offerings we’ll take to our OT channel,’ he said. ’I fully expect in the next two to five years there will be some specific M&A activity in this area, as IT providers decide it’s the right thing to do to get into the OT, and vice versa.’

What is clear is that OT and IT need one another to deliver competitive solutions that result in modern, efficient and fully-automated buildings. Mergers, acquisitions and deep partnerships -- led by the likes of Intel and Dell, who supply both "worlds" with technology -- will be required as this space evolves.

’IoT decisions are being made in the field,’ Luis Alvarez, president and CEO of Alvarez Technology Group, a Salinas, California-based IoT MSP, said during KMC Genius Summit. ’We need to work with companies like [operational technology providers] … our clients are looking at the OT space, and it would also make sense for players in the OT space to partner with someone in the IT space.’

KMC Controls' Commander platform will be a contributor here, too. Newberry says it was developed to let channel partners focus on value-added services and build recurring revenue streams through managed services -- one of the main attractions of businesses looking to build an IoT practice.

And, yes, Dell and Intel can be strategic match-makers here. ’As soon as one of our IT providers puts Commander into a facility, and they decide they see an opportunity in the traditional OT space, they’re very likely to go to one of our OT providers and subcontract them, and vice versa,’ he said.