While there's been a lot of buzz around wearables -- watches and more -- the real opportunity for the channel with the Internet of Things is on the industrial side, an Accenture study out this week said.
The market for industrial Internet of Things is expected to reach US$500 billion by 2020, up from around US$20 billion spent in 2012. For end users, that means a huge boost in productivity driven by the Internet of Things, which in turn means a huge opportunity for the channel to drive and implement those technologies, Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty said.
"The B2B industries have a potential to really dwarf the investments that the consumer-oriented companies can make in this kind of technology," Daugherty said. "Those are great innovations with potential and power for the future. If you look where companies invest and the share of growth in the economy, there's a lot more investment in industrial types of technology."
There are three major routes for growth in industrial companies, the report found. First, they can boost revenues through increased production. Second, they can innovate through new technology, and third they can transform their workforce around the Internet of Things.
While sensors and embedded technologies are usually the first thoughts in most people's minds for industrial applications of the Internet of Things, Daugherty said the opportunities stretch beyond that. While in the early stages of the technology, Daugherty said Accenture has seen applications in 3-D printing for offshore drilling platforms to build new parts, advanced robotics and even drones for drilling and mining companies to investigate pipeline issues in dangerous areas.
"Some of this stuff is about the future and moving into it, but some of it is already here today," Daugherty said. "There's a lot of things that have happened already, but it's just scratching the surface."
Daugherty pointed to some of the work Accenture has done with clients such as GE, Siemens and Caterpillar as examples of some of the advanced work the solution provider, No. 3 on the CRN US SP500 list, has done in this area.
The opportunity expands beyond the construction and industrial industries, as well, Daugherty said. He sees applications for the same technologies in healthcare, insurance, public sector and more. For example, Daugherty said Accenture built a proof of concept for Royal Phillips last year for improving surgeries with Google Glass by giving the doctor access to patient information and more.
"That's the kind of potential I think is out there," Daugherty said.
That trend is furthered, he said, as more of these companies move to an as-a-Service model for their own delivery. That means in order for VARs to capitalise on this trend, Daugherty said they have to make sure they are transitioned to an as-a-Service model themselves.
"The world is kind of moving very rapidly. The cloud-based trends overall are causing things to move to a more as-a-Service model generally ... I think it's in an as-a-Service model that these technologies will be implemented ... How do you make sure you're selling products in the new way?" Daugherty said. "It's a big shift, I think, for companies who provide OEM services to their customers."
Going forward, the study suggested several steps for solution providers to take advantage of the opportunity. The study suggested solution providers think about the value of the technology and the future partner ecosystem it creates, develop a new platform around those predictions, keep an eye on the financials, get the sales channel on board, execute and clarify legal rights around it all.