Recently Wireless Watchdogs partner David Schwartz sat down for an extended interview with CompTIA's Lisa Person for her Breaking Barriers With the Managed Services Community podcast. Breaking Barriers is an excellent podcast that features the MSP space and interviews with members of the CompTIA managed services community, and we're honored that David was chosen to share his insights on managed IoT services. We encourage you to listen to the complete podcast -- and to read on for just some of David's excerpted thoughts.
[The following excerpts are published with the consent of CompTIA, and we're grateful for their cooperation in allowing us to make this available to you.]
On Why Wireless Watchdogs Expanded into Managed IoT
"What we found is that our clients really were loving that they could save money and get all these amazing reports and analytics, but ultimately, they were still faced with the same issue of having to essentially do the work and allocate the resources to getting the job done still. IT departments, as I'm sure you're very well aware, keep getting stretched thinner and thinner and taking on more and more projects. It got to a point where it's just becoming too difficult to take on more, and a lot of our clients have decided to turn to us to help in the managed service component of this and really becoming almost like an extension of their IT department as it relates to any of their mobile devices."
IoT Managed Service Provider White Paper: The Why
"When we started back in 2002, it [MDM services] always had this kind of managed service component to the services we provide. Then over the last, let's say, three to four years as more and more of our clients started implementing IoT devices or these machine-to-machine connected devices, we kept noticing that they were having the same recurring issues of, 'I don't know how to get this done. I don't know how to efficiently finish this project and then manage and support it going forward.' They started running into some issues of what I like to call silos, but basically different departments having different projects and initiatives and IT kind of getting brought in late into those projects and then scrambling to figure out how to be successful in these implementations. Because so many of these examples and scenarios kept coming up with our client base, we ultimately realized there's a serious pain point here, and we should share and help educate people out there on, if you have an IoT project, that there's a better alternative approach than trying to do something yourself if you've never done it before."
IoT Managed Service Provider White Paper: The What
"It's basically an educational document that helps enterprises out there, and we've actually shared it pretty vastly on social media and so on, but it helps kind of guide the reader and kind of make them aware of some of the pain points and challenges they're going to run into. We list off several different challenges that we've already identified that our clients were experiencing, and it just kind of helps guide in terms of what are some scenarios and situations to be wary of and how you could better approach them. From there, what to look for in a managed service provider.
These pain points are real. They're going to exist for all organizations regardless if the IoT initiative is small or big. We just essentially want to to help guide them and lay out those pain points they're going to run into before they run into them and allow them to think through alternative options, one of which is ideally in this document going with a managed service provider so that they can avoid those pitfalls."
Pain Points with New IoT Initiatives
"One of the key [pain points] which I already touched on is just lack of resources or staff to support this. That's a recurring theme that we see with mobile devices as a whole. It's clearly something that's had such a rapid growth, and because of IoT, we're really ultimately just seeing the beginning of this growth and scratching the surface. That's one thing that we're seeing regularly.
A second one is how to take the data and remotely monitor and actually use the information that's available to you. Ultimately, IoT has one huge focus. It's to improve efficiency, but if you don't take the information that the system is generating to you, then it's almost not really serving its full purpose. Making sure that the connections they're picking up is actually valuable to the organization, security is a big one. We're so used to laptops and network security and we've seen repeated issues of organizations not properly updating the firmware on their IoT and connected devices and actually having those devices get hacked, which creates a lot of vulnerability to an enterprise's network, so that's a big point that we've seen a lot of.
Then ultimately, it's figuring out, because this is so new to so many organizations, what are all the requirements that they have? It's not just, "Let's go pick a device and pick a carrier." It's much greater than that. It's picking up sensors that are going to work properly for what their project is, the equipment that's needed, the routers that are needed, definitely the carrier that's going to be best suited. In most cases, what we're actually seeing is multiple carriers. Then the goal in the white paper is demonstrating that there's so many complexities and moving pieces to this that having a one-stop shop in a managed service provider is really ultimately the way to go, and it's a fraction of the cost of what it's going to be to struggle managing this internally."
Business Benefits of Managed IoT Services
"The biggest benefit we've seen is the reduction in staff needed to go and take readings from different types of machines that are out there. A lot of our clients, as an example, may be in the health care space as an example. They have commercial refrigerators. If those commercial refrigerators that store medications and a lot of supplies in the hospitals, they have to be at a certain temperature regularly. If a unit were to fail, well, then everything in the refrigerator goes bad. There's a schedule that a lot of organizations are utilizing where they are sending nurses out to check these commercial refrigerators on a certain basis. They're checking those machines or those refrigerators several times a day. If you have a big hospital with hundreds of thousands of refrigerators and you're sending a nurse to check it every hour or every half hour on some sort of frequency, all of a sudden you can have a machine automatically do this. The amount in overhead that you reduce is significant. That's an example of one area that we've seen a lot of improvement is just a system that automatically can alert you when a piece of machinery is failing rather than having to actually send somebody out there on some frequent basis to monitor the machines that are out there."
The Payoff of Managed IoT Devices
"People are one of the most expensive components of a business, and we want to advocate, obviously, staff being used for what they've been trained on and not losing their valuable time to things that kind of sideline their real focus and what they were hired on to do. Ultimately, our goal is to allow companies to have people do what they were trained to do and in the areas that they're experts at and to not get pulled away from their skill set and the value they provide to the company by getting bogged down with these random tasks that IoT really can supplement and take over for them."
Wrapping it All Up
"One thing I would definitely say is, in our experience, any new sector or industry you go down to go into and kind of jump in the deep end with as it relates to managed service providers or the telecom agent to the world can be intimidating and scary. I think that IoT is something that any managed service company needs to be involved in. Determining what capacity or level an organization wants to participate is absolutely up to them, but I do think it's important honestly to help the industry as a whole and IoT as a whole with managed service providers being in this space. I think ultimately they'll see that they'll probably end up being more successful and even winning more business because they're helping in an area that, as I said earlier, is so new and so intimidating and scary to the enterprises of the world."
About Wireless Watchdogs
As you can probably tell from the podcast excerpts, Wireless Watchdogs has a long and successful history of helping companies realize true ROI from their mobility and IoT initiatives -- and we're happy to share our knowledge and expertise. If you'd like your own copy of the "What to Look for in an IoT Managed Services Provider" white paper, it's yours for the asking: