AT&T Adds IoT Platform To Help Partners Realize Growing Mobility Opportunities

Telecom heavyweight AT&T wants to help its partners take advantage of emerging opportunities around mobility. The carrier has introduced an Internet of Things platform that partners can use to create integrated solutions and manage IoT environments for their clients, while earning lucrative recurring revenue around the influx of connected devices.

AT&T Partner Exchange providers now have access to AT&T Control Center, a cloud-based IoT platform that can help solution providers deploy, manage and scale IoT applications and devices connected to AT&T's 4G LTE network. Control Center is powered by software from Jasper Technologies, Inc., now part of Cisco.

As more devices join the network, the need for mobility solutions isn't slowing down. According to the carrier, the number of solution providers selling mobility through Partner Exchange grew nearly 110 percent in 2015.

[Related: AT&T To Partners: We Need Your Help With IoT]

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Altaworx LLC., a solution provider and AT&T Platinum Partner, expects its IoT sales to more than double this year using Control Center, said Rickie Richey, CEO of Altaworx, based in Mobile, Ala.

"Control Center has given us the ability to really grow our IoT business very rapidly. Once our IoT applications ship in June, the growth is going to be tremendous," Richey said.

AT&T has had a heavy focus on mobility solutions, including IoT. Now, the carrier wants to empower partners in this emerging market, and help the channel capitalize on connected devices, said Sue Galvanek, vice president of the Partner Exchange program.

"With the announcement of the IoT piece, we really have the full spectrum of mobility solutions," Galvanek said. "For an AT&T Partner Exchange solution provider, they can do resale of typical rate plans and devices, wireless WAN solutions, and now … we are letting them take advantage of our IoT connectivity [capabilities] to connect devices using Control Center to do it."

While many partners are still trying to learn about opportunities around IoT, some solution providers have already begun selling connectivity for IoT endpoints. The Control Center platform will help providers resell and build recurring revenue around IoT connectivity, she said.

"Some partners are excited and ready to (do that), and others are thinking about what is possible. It's going to be an evolution, and it's going to take time to work through that and help [partners] understand where the value is and where the revenue growth opportunity is," Galvanek said.

Altaworx specializes in hosted PBX, telecom expense management, and machine-to-machine products and services. The provider has been involved in the Control Center pilot program for the past 10 months and is selling connectivity to companies that develop IoT applications.

Using Control Center, Altaworx can give its clients clearer visibility and better management of their own IoT environments.

"Control Center is the Cadillac of mobile device connectivity management platforms. We've had other companies working with other carriers come to us because we can give access to Control Center – the [platform] is 100 percent helping us win business," Richey said.

Prior to Control Center, managing IoT endpoints was a very manual process, he said. While Altaworx can now give its clients access to Control Center, partners have access to more features within the platform, including the ability to change rate plans and place new orders. Altraworx is also using Control Center to manage its own homegrown IoT applications.

Dallas-based AT&T also published its guide, A Channel Executive's Guide to Mobility, this month.

"The IoT platform and mobility guide go hand in hand," Galvanek said. "Many of the solution providers in our program are on a wide spectrum as far as mobility experience is concerned … We do have some partners only doing wireline, and we think it’s a great opportunity for them to expand their business, revenue stream and margins by participating our mobility program."

Partners involved in both AT&T's mobility and wireline programs grow four times faster than the partners that are selling only one of the solutions, she said.

For partners that want to get started with IoT, Altaworx's Richey said solution providers will have to decide where their strengths lie. Partners can start out by selling devices and then adding connectivity, creating IoT applications or solutions around data analytics, he said.

"We've always been an agent partner," Richey said. "We've always sold solutions, and now we have developed our own IoT connectivity solutions. You have to figure out where your strengths are as a company, and focus on that. Carrier sales partners are different than technology partners."