Solution Providers: Make IoT Less About 'Things,' More About Data Interpretation

The hottest IT trend on everyone's mind – the Internet of Things (IoT) – still has glaring security risks that are turning many solution providers off from building their own practices.

However, IoT's biggest problem is also presenting the greatest opportunity for solution providers to step in with data management expertise, according to a panel of solution providers in the midst of building their own IoT practices who spoke at The Channel Company's XChange 2017 conference in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday.

David Carter, director of technical solutions for Greenville, S.C.-based solution provider Encore Technology Group, asked the audience of channel partners why they were hesitant to build out their own practices and was met with answers that ranged from confusion around IoT in general, to security being too great an obstacle.

[Related: Samsung Enterprise IoT VP: 'We Can't Succeed Without Our Partners' In IoT]

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"We haven't ventured into IoT because solution providers already know what's wrong. And what's wrong is there is an inherent lack of focus in providing security around IoT devices," Carter said.

It's safe to say that businesses are already seeing a plethora of connected devices. This creates as many opportunities for solution providers as it does vulnerabilities, said John Holman, president and CEO of Pax Advisory, a solution provider and consulting firm.

"As we connect to things in the air, on the surface, and things under the water, what happens now? The more [connection] points you have, the harder it is to monitor," Holman said.

Solutions Information Systems (Solutions IS) is one solution provider of many in the audience that has yet to build out its own IoT practice, but the company is working on building awareness around IoT within its customer base.

The Houston, Texas-based solution provider supports small to mid-sized business customers, many in the financial, and oil and gas industry. Security, especially for these customers, is the biggest roadblock to IoT adoption, according to Tim Loney, president and CEO of Solutions IS.

"These industries are going to be very skeptical until the market is more mature," Loney said.

But once they are ready, customers are going to be relying on solution providers for data interpretation, Loney said.

"I think [solution providers] should take more of a consultative approach to understanding the information being collected," he said. "We are there to help them understand what their hardware, systems, and traffic is trying to tell them."

Encore Technology's Carter argued that whether they know it or not, most solution providers already have an IoT practice.

Many partners today are selling products that collect data, such as routers. These devices are interacting with other devices without human intervention. All those sensors need to be managed by someone, and they need to be managed securely, Carter said.

"Who is making sure that it's OK that the sensor that is attached to the heart monitor in the NICU goes out to the internet to be aggregated by a health care system and then is used by other healthcare devices to make decisions about the patient?" Carter said. "All of that is greenfield, and it’s a huge market opportunity."