Recipe For IoT Success: The Skill Sets Solution Providers Need To Build Right Now

Solution providers that want to tap into lucrative Internet of Things opportunities need to develop critical skill sets, including vertical expertise, the ability to design effective business solutions, and capabilities around application development.

Those are the three keys to success for solution providers, according to Rauline Ochs, a channel strategist for The Channel Company's IPED Channel Research Consulting & Training Business, who spoke Wednesday at IoTConnex, a virtual IoT conference hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company.

’There are three things that come up whether we’re talking to a global partner or a million-dollar partner,’ she said. ’Number one, they teamed for vertical expertise; number two, when they had access to the decision-makers, they had solution design capabilities … and three, they had application development capability.’

[Related: LogicMonitor CEO: The Channel Is At The Forefront Of IoT As Customers Seek Trusted Subject Matter Experts]

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These skill sets come in ’digital transformation building blocks’ that solution providers need to look at when helping customers implement IoT, including the business process and customer experience, as well as gaining visibility into key insight and foresight for customers, said Ochs.

’The IoT return on investment to the customers comes from analyzing the data coming from an IoT application, and either looking at an insight … or a foresight, which is what [customers can] predict from the data,’ she said.

But beyond these building blocks, partners need to bring their own expertise to the table.

While vertical expertise gives solution providers an edge in better understanding what challenges customers face in their respective markets, solution design capabilities enable them to take the next step and bring IoT implementations over the finish line.

’What that means is they could talk to a line-of-business decision-maker, ask about the business problem, whiteboard it, create a vision for a solution, take that vision to a proof of concept, and prove that they could improve that vision process or the customer experience,’ she said.

Application development is another key skill solution providers need to have, said Ochs.

’[Solution providers need] to take and build that proof of concept and from there move into production with a live application,’ she said.

To tap into these skill sets, solution providers can use DevOps, containers around development applications, and IoT platforms from vendors including GE, said Ochs.

Solution providers also need to have a deep understanding of business problems and problem-solving.

’We kind of see IoT as a subset of digital transformation but, frankly, at the end of the day it’s branding,’ said Ochs. ’What really matters is the use case and the technology you’re using to solve the customer’s business problem.’

Jeff Murray, president of Control Point, a Scarsborough, Maine-based solution provider, agreed, stressing that customers are looking for a solution provider who can really understand the business challenges they are facing in the marketplace – not necessarily one who is completely focused on technology.

’Solution providers need to understand … that customers are not necessarily clamoring for IoT,’ he said. ’What they're very interested in is a solution to their problem. And we've been successful because we like finding problems and finding solutions to problems. … Walking in the door and saying, ’I've got the next best IoT solution’ is not going be the way to get that door open and the way to get talking with the customer. It's really going to be about talking to them about what their problems are, trying to solve the issues that keep that customer awake at night.’