Internet of ThingsThere’s a lot of hype these days surrounding anything associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). But despite the hype a survey published this week by Dresner Advisory Services finds that only 32 percent of the respondents deemed IoT to be an important or critical technology initiative. A full 47 percent deemed it not important at all.

IoT could represent a significant opportunity for managed service providers, though. In effect these technologies create a massive distributed computing environment that most organizations are not prepared to manage on their own. The survey also finds that organizations that deem IoT to be important have a bigger appreciation for the value of Big Data and advanced analytics. This suggests that IoT projects will generate multiple downstream opportunities.

Navigating IoT road blocks

But, it’s also clear there is a need for more education. IT providers tend to throw around terms like IoT without really explaining any of the specific use cases. Without a clearly defined business outcome, it will be hard to get any organization to allocated dollars to an IoT project. In the short term, most organizations will be focused on proof-of-concept. Once they determine what’s possible with IoT, it may take longer for them to craft a business model that enables them to monetize an IoT project.

MSPs will also have to navigate who in the organization will be responsible for IoT projects. While the IT industry acts like IoT is a whole new field, the truth is machine-to-machine (M2M) communications has been around for decades. Most implementations of M2M are managed by operations teams that don’t report into the IT organization, so it’s often not clear who has control over an IoT budget.

In general, IT vendors are now making a case for centralizing the data collected by devices at the edge of an IoT network. Those efforts are focused mainly on distributed analytics applications that will reside both on a gateway at the edge of the IoT network as well as in a cloud service. Building those applications, however, requires a level of skill most organizations today don’t have.

Preparing for the future

The other major issue, of course, is security. Most organizations today are hesitant to launch new projects that don’t address security issues. So, IoT could create a massive opportunity for managed security service providers (MSSPs). Most organizations can’t secure their existing IT environments, though, so any project that involves securing thousands of endpoints is daunting. The good news is that given the scale of these projects most organizations will have to rely on external expertise to successfully implement an IoT project.

There’s no doubt that IoT projects will eventually get launched at scale. IoT will become table stakes in terms of providing a better overall customer experience. But, MSPs would be wise to take a long view. The odds that IoT projects will generate significant revenue opportunities for MSPs in 2018 is low. MSPs should spend much of the next year developing their IoT skills with an eye towards large scale opportunities starting to manifest themselves in 2019.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Intronis.

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