How do we crack into the next IoT layer?

Miriam Murphy, senior vice president, Avnet Technology Solutions, North region, EMEA discusses the next phase for IoT and the channel opportunity

In the tech world, we seem to thrive on the phrase: “There’s never been a more interesting time in the industry.” It’s no wonder why. There have been so many transformational phases over the past two decades. We’re in an industry of constant change yet still it’s hard to imagine we’ll continue to see this happen at the same pace in the coming decade.

On the other side of the coin, when you consider the Internet of Things (IoT) and the opportunities that such a market will open up, suddenly the next phase of change doesn’t seem as difficult to envision. The roll out has already started but what does it looks like really? It can be a little bit overwhelming to think that ‘anything that can be connected, will be connected’ but we can’t ignore that this very concept will uncover vast opportunities for those of us willing to embrace this new world of IT.

This next phase isn’t just about enhancements in personal mobile and home devices. The opportunity that IoT opens up for enterprise connectivity is immense. Enterprise is being touted as the largest of the three main IoT markets next to government and connected home. Employee productivity, increased asset utilization and supply chain efficiencies are just some of the key benefits the enterprise space will enjoy.

So, what does this mean for growth opportunities? Smarter devices in the enterprise space, connected to the IoT ecosystem, mean data analytics solutions are employed to help frontline staff and power players in industry make more informed decisions based on greater accessibility to organisational and operational data. In this way, the world of work has already started to embrace analytics and information from the ‘edge’ of enterprise IT infrastructure such as sensors and gateways.

We use this data everyday too, like when we check the weather forecast and make the simple decision on wearing sunglasses or holding umbrellas, we’re using information based on complex mathematical models driven from enterprise level analytics engines. These are making sense out of huge amounts of sensor-driven edge data. This more effective use of data mining in the enterprise space alone is already having knock-on effects like creating a market need for big data storage solutions and services, not just data analytics and business intelligence (bi) products.

In the next phase, there’s a requirement for the channel to crack the next layer of IoT. This needs agile exploration, analysis and action around IoT data. The market for analytics software will open up even further. Whether ‘predictive’ or ‘reflective’, analytics will need to be optimised to adapt to data streams, in near real-time, and maintain a quality of insight that is accurate, integrated and can be interpreted easily.

Additionally, as we’ve seen on a regular basis in the news headlines, the requirement to protect privacy and secure information, whilst remaining compliant to regulations across EMEA, becomes absolutely critical. Both security software and services are already in high demand to manage data transfer and analytics without leaking information of being hacked. Data derived through automated responses from remote sensors requires a more advanced level of security. The location of data also adds to the complexity of security. For example, transmitting data remotely from an oil rig floating in the North Sea requires secure cloud storage which is capable of handling millions of small data packages securely from multiple devices and locations.

Mobility adds another dimension with the requirement for asset tracking and management, as well as secure data transmission over public networks. This mobility trend highlights the issue of security again as enterprises will need to be able to remotely identify faults in sensors to protect against sensor tampering, which allows hackers to ‘spoof’ data . This market need widens the scope for implementing access management solutions and services to verify data sources. All of these examples help to create an image of the next phase for IoT in terms of security requirements. This opens up another layer of IoT opportunity for the channel.

The moral here? Don’t simply think of IoT as a blinkered future where your coffee machine is connected to your alarm clock and your mobile is connected to your smart meter at home. It’s much more than that and we’ve witnessed the start of this. The edge solutions already in place around safety, compliance and facilities management have created the first phase of the IoT opportunity. The opportunity to connect ‘the edge’ enterprise systems to drive automated maintenance, for example, could be the first to realise real commercial value. For the next layer though, enterprise-focused IoT hardware and software in the manufacturing, transportation, warehousing and information sectors are where the real growth opportunities will be.

Posted under Internet of Things (IoT), IT infrastructure

This post was written by on December 21, 2015

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Technology without the right skills and training is like buying a plane without a pilot’s licence

Richard Whitson, Academy Business Development Manager, Avnet Academy

Technology should create a better business outcome to make the world a better place to live, work and play. No enterprise organisation invests in technology without a purpose, i.e. it needs to perform a function. But to use technology as intended, IT teams need the right skills to install, configure, manage and support.  Much like planes, IT hardware and software from different vendors work differently and need different skills to get the most out of them. Plus as the technology evolves, IT teams need to refresh their skills.

There is no way you would take a plane up in the air unless you had the right training and knew you were going to be able to land it again without any problems. Introducing new technology into the heart of a data centre carries similar risks. Do it wrong and you could find the business grinding to a halt whilst you pray that the back-ups can restore missing data. Development environments obviously help and take out some of the risk. But even then, it’s not all that efficient to ‘play’ with the technology.  It is far more effective to know how to get the most out of the technology in the first instance. This is where good quality training and education has an important role to play.  You should have the option to customise the training to your team’s requirements. There is no point putting a team through hours of tutorial on things they already know.  Plus people have different learning styles.  Sometimes people learn better at their own pace, or they find it difficult to travel and want to learn from their office or home.  Training should also be credible.  If the vendor has appointed the training provider, this is usually a good sign that the course content is going to be of decent quality. The fact is, organisations spend large sums of money on technology to give them a competitive advantage. They need to invest their training budget wisely to leverage this investment to have maximum impact.

I have been working recently on a new brochure for our IBM focused partners to help them offer their customers IBM authorised training, which you can see by clicking here. For more than 25 years Avnet has provided product, skills and services for the complete range of IBM hardware and software solutions for Cloud, Big Data & Analytics, Security, Social & Mobility, and Systems & Systems Software. Plus as IBM’s appointed Authorised Global Training Provider, it should come as no surprise to you that we are passionate about training and education. In the same way no one wants to see a plane crash because of pilot error, we hate to see down time or wasted investment because the IT teams in charge of managing the IT infrastructure we sold, didn’t have the right skills. Our success is directly related to helping ensure the best business outcome. And whilst technology is becoming more intuitive, at the enterprise level, artificial intelligence has not yet replaced the need for skilled IT teams.

Posted under IT infrastructure, IT Software, Training

This post was written by on December 18, 2015

Time to get smart with our training budgets

Richard Whitson, Academy Business Development Manager, Avnet Academy

When people tell me training is expensive, I am quick to point out that it’s not as expensive as ignorance and unused training budgets.

When it comes to some of the data centre technologies, you just can’t afford the risk of ‘learning on the job’. If things go wrong, the consequences don’t bear thinking about. A training budget is a precious thing all too often taken for granted. In a knowledge economy, our ability to acquire and purchase knowledge is what gives organisations a competitive advantage.  IT training helps you leverage your investments in IT to get the technology to do more.  Unspent training budgets represent wasted opportunity and put an organisation at risk from falling behind its competitors.  Here are two things all organisations should be considering.

Firstly, maximise flexibility.  Most training budgets are set around financial years rather than when and where the training is needed. Often these two things are mis-aligned and companies end up sacrificing training budgets at the end of a financial year because they are unused, or worse they get spent on things that aren’t going to drive the right results. Organisations need to find training providers that allow them to park a training budget with them and then schedule the training as and when it’s needed. This flexibility means organisations can ensure training budgets are spent on the right things at the right time. This might mean waiting until the employee, project or customer is ready.

Secondly organisations should be looking at ways of getting more training days for their money.  If you bought a stack of training credits, you should be looking to save up to 25% off the cost of training. This is a smart way of using your training budget. Remember training equals competitive advantage.  If you can increase that by up to 25%, this can only be a good thing for your organisation.

At Avnet we recognise that training is an important factor in employee engagement, because it helps them stay interested and maximises their potential. Partner with the right training provider, be smart with your training budget and suddenly you’ll find it far easier to accelerate your success.

There is additional information on our website about Avnet training credits:

Posted under Training

This post was written by on December 7, 2015

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