The reality surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) may finally be starting to live up to the hype. A global survey of 1,758 businesses conducted by Vodafone finds that more than a third (34 percent) have implemented IoT, with 70 percent of those respondents having moved beyond the pilot stage.

In terms of IoT adoption by region, the survey shows that the Americas has the most advanced IoT adoption, with 67 percent of adopters having at least one project in an advanced stage, compared to 51 percent in Asia Pacific, and 46 percent in Europe. 

A full 83 percent of early IoT adopters plan to increase the scale of deployments, while 60 percent saying IoT has either already disrupted their industry or will do so in the next five years.

The report also finds a high correlation between IoT and next-generation 5G networks, as over half (52 percent) of IoT adopters state their intention to take advantage of 5G networks. Vodafone has already announced that it is working with VMware to build a 5G network to run network function virtualization (NFV) software at the network edge.

How can MSPs take advantage?

Managed service providers should be paying close attention to the rise of IoT because it represents a major use case for edge computing. Rather than thinking simply in terms of connecting, for example, industrial system the Internet, providers should take note of the level of sophistication of the applications that will be deployed on these systems. Due to the need to analyze and respond to events in real-time, many of the IoT systems that get deployed will need to be based on modern hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) platforms.

All that computing horsepower at the edge will need to be secured and managed. It’s unlikely that most of organizations that adopt IoT systems will have the IT expertise required to manage a complex distributed computing environment. That creates an opportunity for MSPs to manage a wide variety of IoT use cases spanning every vertical industry. The good news is that business and IT leaders are aware of the potential impact of IoT. The bad news is most them don’t always immediately conclude that relying on MSPs to manage these systems is their best option. If MSPs want to get in on the proverbial ground floor of this emerging IoT opportunity, the time to launch an IoT practice is now. Of course, launching an IoT practice isn’t going to be enough. MSPs will also need to invest in a considerable amount of sales and marketing to make organizations aware that a managed IoT service is even an option.

Naturally, one of the fastest ways to jump-start a managed IoT practice is to start hiring people that have expertise in a specific vertical industry. While IoT projects will share many common attributes from a management perspective, each one will have several individual nuances based on vertical industry use case. The executives that sign off on these projects are going to have a lot more faith in an MSP that knows how to speak the language of their industry.

Like most opportunities, timing is everything. MSPs that don’t start putting together an IoT practice now will simply miss the opportunity. It takes about a year to acquire the expertise to build an IoT practice. By this time next year, demand for managed IoT services should begin to rapidly escalate. MSPs that invest today, in anticipation of that demand tomorrow, will soon find themselves in a very enviable position.

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Photo: Everything Possible / Shutterstock

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 Smarter MSP.

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