Q&A: Monnit CEO On Why The Sensor Manufacturer Is Banking On Industrial IoT -- And Why Partners Should Too

Monnit's Money-Making Strategy

Sensors are attached to the endpoint of every Internet of Things offering, making them a critical part of the fast-moving market.

According to research firm Markets and Markets, the IoT sensor market will be worth a staggering $38.41 billion by 2022 – and sensor manufacturer Monnit wants to be at the forefront.

The Salt Lake City-based company, named to CRN's 2016 Internet Of Things 50, recently launched new enterprise-grade Alta wireless sensors for the Internet of Things – and hopes to reach vertical markets through expanding its go-to-market channel.

’With Alta, companies get the most reliable and cost-effective solution, offering secure, real-time information on how assets, buildings and processes are managed and maintained," said Monnit CEO Brad Walters.

Following are excerpts from CRN's conversation with Walters.

What types of vertical markets are you focusing on with your sensors?

We have chosen to focus our product line on small to medium businesses, and the industrial market … also certainly a broader enterprise level and larger corporations.

But I believe IoT will penetrate all aspects of business. There's such a diversity of things out there that have value and can save the business money.

A lot of folks are saying that the gateway is where the IoT resides, but we think it goes beyond the edge. We see sensors attached to thousand-dollar office chairs, sensors attached to cattle to measure their ear temperature.

Talk about your new wireless sensors that are part of the Alta platform. What new features did you put in these enterprise-grade products?

We've been running the same technology and product offering since 2010. Now we have a new product line … with a very broad set of features targeted exclusively to the enterprise. This includes longer battery life. And communication from the sensor wirelessly to the receiver is now encrypted.

The thought around all this is that as IoT evolves, there are broader requirements for unique aspects due to the needs of the things.

Talk more about those requirements for 'unique aspects due to the needs of things.' What does this mean for sensors?

The diversity of the 'things,' like vending machines and streetlights, in IoT makes this opportunity for the things so massive.

Everything we design is based on circuit boards. The enclosure or the plastic case is unique and then the software and data transmission is different. For instance, the temperature of a cow is different data than someone putting sensors into a cooler of a McDonald's.

A sensor can have a ruggedized nature for outdoor applications. But other things vary – how does it connect, what color is it, where's the antenna, what kind of battery does it have? Then beyond mechanical and design factors, there's also data parameter factors – how often is a sensor checking in to the device, what kind of data is it collecting?

We're empowering these things with tool sets and our channel partners can make those modifications. They know their vertical market customers.

What are the opportunities in the Industrial IoT market, from a sensor point of view?

At the end of the day, if you look at the waves of the market, we've seen revenue in the general commercial market – but the next wave is Industrial IoT. Many of our partners are Industrial IoT players. A factory floor with 200 machines can use sensors to extrapolate how efficiently the whole floor is running.

The Industrial IoT space has different requirements. The return on investment is a staggeringly short amount of time. The time of acceptance is also exceptionally short.

What kind of channel are you building around IoT?

We had to create adaptive IoT sensors for different markets. The reason this is relevant is because of the need for an educated and adaptable channel. … We sell direct, but as we've matured we found that most important partners are vertically oriented channel plays. That will be indicative of IoT – industry knowledgeable companies stepping up and saying they're dominant in the world of manufacturing of bottles, for instance. So for the channel, IoT is going from traditional IT to more vertically oriented.

With the traditional IT channel, we've been working very hard to align with a number of those types of partners.

We've had to modify our product to fit the channel with a broader reach into IoT. For distributors, many are taking us into their broader suite of systems integrators, and then we're also looking at industry-specific IoT resellers.