By Raymond Vrabel, Director, Technical Account Management, Continuum Managed IT Services
Part 10 of a monthly blog series examining tips on how MSPs can work to break “bad” business habits that they might unknowingly fall into as a result of just wanting to get things done.
By now, you have likely heard of a term known as “The Internet of Things,” or “IoT.” Much like the terms “cloud” and “managed services” before it, the Internet of Things is poised to create new business opportunities for both current IT companies and start-ups. While it seems like IT executives are split 50/50 on whether IoT is a fact, or simply just hype, CompTIA recently published a research brief stating that IoT could be filled with new opportunities.
According to the CompTIA study, Sizing Up the Internet of Things, “the complex mix of hardware, software, rules and services in the IoT ecosystem will create new business opportunities.” Furthermore, the study projected that the number of connected devices worldwide will grow from 14.4 billion in 2014 to more than 50 billion in 2020. Interestingly, I can attest to this growth personally, as Continuum’s CEO Michael George noted in his keynote at our September Navigate user conference that the average person now owns 2.73 mobile devices, and that number continues to increase. I also mention this in my September Breaking Bad blog post.
Of course, the top question with IoT, is: “How do I make money?” According to the CompTIA study, in which IT executives were asked to identify the types of companies expected to most likely profit from this technology, 45 percent said device companies were the front runners, with data analytics/data companies coming in at a close second at 43 percent.
As an MSP serving SMBs, you are likely wondering if IoT will affect both your business and that of your clients. Furthermore, what do you need to be doing now? In 2006, in the early days of managed services and the cloud, we were talking to each other about these topics and trying to figure it all out. It is really the same with IoT. Millions of products need to talk to each other, similar to the cloud. Think about the cloud for a second…it really started on a bigger, enterprise level, and then gradually moved over to the SMB world. And just like the cloud was once in its infancy, so too is IoT.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start preparing and speaking with your peers and SMB customers now. See below in which I offer a few tips on what you can start doing now, so that you can take advantage of the IoT profit potential once this technology moves ahead within our space.
1.) The Business of IoT: Look at IoT from a business, rather than technology perspective, and collect data and analytics that help predict 2015 and beyond. To first make sense of this all, for both your business and your clients, you need to first manage and monitor IoT.
2.) More Smart Devices: Look at everything from the copier/printer in the office, to the lights and heating systems, phones, Wi-Fi and security. It’s about bundling all of your data together. Again, IoT is a major event like the cloud, and it will take on so many different meanings for different people. It will take time to figure out how IoT will define the future. Eventually, everything will be controlled from smart devices—from the lights in your office, to the HVAC system, and at the end of the day, as the world of devices is getting smarter, so too will the industry that supports them.
3.) Will Infrastructures Catch Up? As you add more devices, more security will be needed, and you will need to incorporate this, especially in the wake of BYOD. With even more devices, security will become even more important. Start thinking about:
- Will all of these connected devices put a load on my clients’ infrastructures?
- Can their internal Wi-Fi handle this?
- Are my clients using the latest versions of all software?
With all this being said, IoT is currently reserved for the enterprise level. But, as I mentioned earlier, we need to start planning for the future. Once IoT moves through the enterprise, it will move to SMB as the cloud did. However, this time, it will come much faster than with previous technologies.
While the advent of the Internet of Things is making its way to SMBs might still be some time away, planning now for clients will enable capitalizing on this technology sooner. Keep IoT in mind as we usher in 2015, especially as it is expected to ‘catch’ quicker than any previous technology in the industry.
Raymond Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @rayvrabel.