While the Internet of Everything (IoE) keeps cropping up in conversation amongst the vendor community, it’s not hard to spot the opportunities for the channel – not only in the proliferation of internet-connected smart devices, but in the cloud storage, processing, pipes and software needed to manage and enable the flow of data.
Take the example of IP-connected CCTV cameras – one of the first IoE technologies to come of age over the past two or three years thanks, in part, to growing public sector investment in town centre surveillance. It created demand for the cameras themselves; specific types of network attached storage (NAS); and even Big Data and facial recognition systems developed to enable better crowd control and security. The London Olympics also gave sales a massive shove. CONTEXT recorded unit sales growth of IP cameras at a whopping 430% from first half of 2012 to 2013 on the back of the Games. In Europe as a whole the figure stood at 157.7%.
The stats from 1H 2013-2014 may seem underwhelming by comparison; -55% in the UK and just +6.4% in Europe, although this is more than likely because 2012-13 was such a special year. I’d predict the second half of 2014 or next year will see sales getting back into positive growth, especially with the rise in consumer demand for such systems.
Other opportunities exist in the “smart home” space with internet-connected TVs and audio equipment – not just in supplying these products for end users, but also the cloud storage and bandwidth needed to deliver content. Earlier this year the new 802.11ac standard was adopted, which will provide a major driver for upgrades as the IoE continues to demand ever greater bandwidth and faster access to data. There’s even a push coming from the healthcare industry – where gadgets like heart rate monitors and internet connected weighing scales are finding a new customer base amongst the elderly.
With this backdrop it’s easy for channel players to get carried away and jump on the first IoE bandwagon they can find. But we’d advise caution.
Revenues will be linear so the need for education, training and associated services will be key to succeed in a very competitive environment with many new emerging vendors. If you can associate with the right vendors, there’ll be a great opportunity to capitalise on this new era in ICT. There may even be a chance there to reinvent yourself as a cloud-ready infrastructure or software and services channel player.
But the trick is in knowing which partnerships to foster and which to leave alone.