IoT – Not Just for Christmas

Mike van Bunnens spoke to Comms Business recently about the latest developments they are seeing in the Channel and offer a cautionary tale for anyone looking at the market.

Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Can you give us an update of the last 12 months at Comms365?

Mike van Bunnens (MVB): We’ve seen a period of rapid growth and development over the last 12 months which has been really encouraging and has proven to us that our strategy is working. We have been selling M2M based solutions, from a cellular point of view, for the last eight and a half years. That has been a core part of our value chain for not just us, but also our customers and resellers.

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In the background we have been building up a number of relationships with key players in the field of IoT including B&B Advantech, Everynet and Cisco. That has helped us formulate a strategy within our own minds as how we wanted to proceed. We made a conscious a decision years ago that we wanted to be higher up the delivery value chain. We wanted to be able to work with partners and offer them turnkey solutions.

When we started to move into the pure-play IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) world, it became clear that the companies that would succeed where those that had the ability to deliver an end-to-end solution.

We could have patched services together from different suppliers to form these solutions, but we needed the granular control for ourselves and our customers. This last year has been about solidifying this approach and going to market.

CBM: You made an investment recently with Everynet, can you tell us a bit more about that?

MVB: Yes, to be at the forefront of implementing large scale LoRaWAN deployments, we look for strategic partners within our ecosystem who can amplify our existing capabilities and provide IoT solutions. We’ve found that collaboration with Everynet. We already have customers lining up to discuss how this technology can save money versus more traditional M2M services. Through our partnership, we will be providing increased functionality and enabling customers to manage their devices and data at a granular level that has previously been unachievable. Our goal is to deliver IoT into commercial deployments much faster than the market has been able to do to date. Our end to end capability will help us achieve that goal.

CBM: What is your general feeling of IoT adoption levels within the Channel right now?

MVB: There is a real desire within the reseller community to get involved in IoT but there does appear to be a worrying lack of understanding as to what that actually means. Talking to the Channel right now they are thinking about cellular and M2M which has been around for years.

Traditional resellers are jumping on the bandwagon and selling M2M SIMs with Fixed IPs and seeing themselves as experts in IoT.

For partners selling IoT, many of their customer’s don’t want just cellular solutions. They will also want things like LP-WAN, satellite or fixed line too. You are going to need be able to deliver those into complex solutions and for that you need a next generation core network and a lot of integration.

We saw some of the early adopters in the reseller channel pull back a bit because IoT wasn’t what they thought it would be. It’s not a get rich quick scheme, it’s not something you can just deploy and get recurring revenues in without having to support it. Supporting something like Ethernet is difficult enough and that is a robust service with high SLAs. Supporting thousands of SIMs, which have no SLA from the operators, and routers with varying levels of robustness is a massive support overhead for organisations that haven’t had to do that in the past.

CBM: Do you need to make IoT your core business to succeed?

MVB: If you look at a typical voice reseller or a data reseller, the one thing they are not used to selling is machine controlled data services. I can’t imagine a voice reseller and their partners going out to look for a LoRaWAN waste bin management opportunity. It’s so out of their traditional comfort zone that they wouldn’t entertain it.

However, there will be a lot of these types of opportunities for partners but I think they will have to work with MSP’s like ourselves to identify them and also to capitalise on them if IoT isn’t at their core.

IoT isn’t just for Christmas, what I mean by that is once you deploy a solution you could be supporting those customers for 15 – 20 years. You don’t want to deploy one or two solutions and then have to continue to support it if you decide IoT isn’t for you.If you are willing to put in the time and effort to understanding and building a proposition, the rewards will come.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine