AT&T Business Solutions CEO: Partners Not Betting Big On Mobility Will Miss IoT Revolution

AT&T Business Solutions CEO Ralph de la Vega says partners that do not shift aggressively into the mobility market will miss the blockbuster Internet of Things opportunity.

"If you're not in mobility, you're not going to take advantage of the Internet of Things," said de la Vega during a keynote session at AT&T's Partner Exchange Summit, held in Dallas this week. "These are additive so if you fall behind in one of these things … you could likely get bypassed because you have to build the underlying capability in your business so you can understand mobility and solve for the things that are coming behind it."

De la Vega's call to action comes with many of AT&T Business Solutions partners still selling only wireline offerings.

"We have 6 billion things connected to the internet today and [analysts are] saying that by 2020, anywhere from 25 [billion] to 50 billion devices are going to be connected to the internet," de la Vega said, pacing the stage and looking around the hotel ballroom. "Do you see an opportunity there? It's a huge opportunity. But you're not going to be able to leverage that if all you're selling is wireline products – I think you know that."

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Many of AT&T partners, though, still have to connect the dots between getting into mobility and taking advantage of the IoT opportunity.

One partner agreed that wireless backup was both a solid recurring revenue stream and a good entry point for partners who were just getting into wireless. "It's a great product. We can run wireless backup to a private data network and we can failover our customers to our data center," said Rickie Richey, CEO of Altaworx, an AT&T Platinum Elite partner based in Fairhope, Ala.

Altaworx is already participating in the internet of things market with Nightwatch, a biomedical device that helps remotely track the health of horses and prevent conditions like colic from becoming fatal.

Altaworx helps connect the Nightwatch offering to devices and, when that business takes off, so too will a new stream of recurring revenue, said Richey.

"Most of the people in that room are saying, 'I believe what Ralph is saying, but how do I do all this stuff?," Richey said in reference to selling services around IoT.

AT&T partners should look for opportunities where they can step in with network connectivity and security services for a wide range of IoT devices, he said.

Brooks McCorcle, president of AT&T Partner Solutions, told CRN that the IoT march comes with "good growth and there's now scale" coming out of AT&T Partner Exchange and other businesses she oversees. She said the Partner Exchange program, which now has 500 partners, has succeeded in bringing "new growth" and new midmarket strength to the carrier.

McCorcle cited a "rolling thunder" of products, services and education that AT&T is bringing to market to help its partners.

Sue Galvanek, vice president of marketing, pricing and product solutions for AT&T's Partner Exchange, said Partner Exchange solution providers have completed nearly 600 certifications for various levels of AT&T product and market education. "The key is that all of these things are focused on driving success for solution providers," Galvanek said.

Earlier this week, at the Partner Exchange, AT&T announced its NetBond cloud connectivity solution is now available to solutions providers, in addition to providing more mobile offerings and training.