How to build a partner ecosystem for the IoT
SAN JOSE, Calif.– CEO of NimbeLink Scott Schwable chaired a panel discussion centered on the transition from a component to a solutions company, and the broader theme of IoT enablement, at the 2017 Sensors Expo and Conference. The group spoke about what companies look for when building a partner ecosystem.
The panel consisted of Kevin Blakey, director of sales at Western Region; Randall Restle, vice president of applications engineering at Digi-Key Corporation; Erik Varney, regional data sales manager at Verizon Wireless; and Manuel Botija, IoT product marketer at Sequans Communications.
The internet of things (IoT) is in constant flux. To tackle the various technologies that make up IoT solutions, developers need to cultivate a partner ecosystem.
“We look at very critical key components in working and partnering with those groups,” Varney said. “Especially what they are bringing something to the table. Long gone are the days that people think they can bring a product into and drop it in a Verizon retail store, sell it, market it and have it done for them. They can sit back and wait for the orders to roll. We really look for partners that are saying, ‘Hey, I got a businesses. I know what I am going to be attacking; I know what I am going after.’ And that is where we are more than happy to come in to offer up air time, offer up partnership, offer up lead management.”
A solutions provider is a vendor that manages client projects from installation to support. This often consists of researching the client’s infrastructure, reviewing the client’s needs, noting the hardware and software required to fulfill project goals, and installing technology at the client’s headquarter. A partner ecosystem can fulfill those needs in a synergistic way.
“I would say mutual dependency is important,” Restle said. “When partners have equal aims and are complementary to one another that they can run. In the case of Digi-Key, our size means we have to bring suppliers on who are able to grow with us. We desperately depend on new technologies. We need to have people who are willing to work as hard as we do to bring a product to market.”
Among the niche applications seeing traction in the IoT realm are trash and beer, Blakey commented. “Dump trucks drive around to an empty bin. There are applications for a niche where they take a photo of a bin and let the driver know whether or not the bin needs to be picked up,” he said. “The other is beer. There are a lot of problems of over pouring after hours at bars. There is some beer management platforms out there that will lock kegs at 2 a.m. or monitor the temperature of kegs to make sure their is not too much foam coming out of the beer. They put this in a platform for bars to manage.”
While the transition to a solutions company is a tedious process, it has several advantages, commented Botija. “The key here is we have new technologies enabling lower power, lower costs and global solutions,” he said.