The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to change the way we work. There are 3 billion devices connected in some way to the web now – in two or three years time, this number will be 10 billion. And, while there are some undesirable effects of this – security being the main one – it will without a doubt change the way we work and live.

Consumers are leading the way. We have noticed a trend moving away from technology for technology’s sake, towards real integration and an understanding that technology can help to make lives easier. IoT is central to this integrated, connective life. Around half of leading edge consumers believe IoT will impact their lives over the next few years. And, as we have seen with smartphones and other gadgets, where consumers go, often businesses will follow.

The foundation of IoT is the web, connectivity and the infrastructure we need in order to connect continuously and seamlessly. According to our research both consumers and business cited the cloud as having the biggest near term impact on the way they use technology. Whether it’s smart cites, businesses or homes, they will need all need higher networking bandwidth and additional networking equipment – a staple of channel sales. Beyond that, switches, routers and the other peripherals will also be in demand, as well as integration and support – again all areas where the channel and distribution can play their parts.

Integrating the right devices into the infrastructure to fulfil those business and consumer desires, will be the ultimate success of IoT, and this is another area where the channel plays a huge role. Around 35% of retailers and resellers expect an increasing revenue potential by IoT in the near future, and we believe IoT will impact the entire supply chain.

For example, smart phones, wearables and smartcards are all going to see a surge in the next few years as consumers and businesses try to harness the power of IoT and the convenience it could bring. Leading smartphone manufacturers already have smartcard products announced. They bring travel cards, credit cards, entry cards and numerous others into a single unit, ensuring consumers and businesses are already keen to adopt. Retailers and specialised VARs will need to demonstrate to businesses the value these cards can bring, beyond just convenience. Security for example can be heightened; if lost one single port of call to erase the data and obtain a new card is all that is required.

And it’s not just at the device level. For IoT to really take off, hardware, software and channel players will need to convene to work out the apps and technology required to ensure market adoption. With distribution and resellers knowing what the market require, feeding back to the manufacturers will be crucial if we hope to see the uptake that has been predicted.

Gernot Teufel
Global Director IT, GfK