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Sprint IoT: From 'Buzzword' To Money-Making Managed Service

‘IoT is a popular buzzword, but people are really struggling to make it happen,’ Sprint Business execs tell CRN.

Sprint wants to help the channel monetize IoT, something that has been a struggle for many solution providers up until now.

"When you go into a room, ask people to raise their hand if they've made money on IoT, many times, no one's hands are going up. IoT is a popular buzzword, but people are really struggling to make it happen," Ryan Yahrmatter, head of channel sales, IoT and cloud, for Sprint Business, told CRN.

The wireless carrier today is offering Sprint IoT in a Box, a simplistic service that is resonating with MSPs, Yahrmatter said. "It's a complete managed service that comes right out of the box that [partners] can start earning money on in 30 days," he said. "There's no hardware or software costs."

MSPs can white-label Sprint's IoT in a Box offering to maintain their customer relationship -- a feature that many carriers haven't allowed partners to do, Yahrmatter said. Or, partners can also choose to sell a Sprint-branded version. "We're trying to make it very simple," he said. "If you want to sell our network or our products and services, that can be your brand."

The initial Sprint In A Box offering is Refrigeration Monitoring, a solution that lets businesses meet regulatory compliance standards and protect their investments, such as food in a restaurant kitchen. To help the channel sell IoT, Sprint has categorized solutions into three "buckets" -- crawl, walk, run, said Derrick Meer, head of channel sales for Sprint Business.

"For IoT In A Box, partners don't need any special skills so they can get in and start creating a recurring revenue stream for themselves very quickly and they can brand it under their brand," Meer said. "We want to help partners get started right away and making money."

The Goldie Group is a Framingham, Mass.-based MSP and Sprint partner that specializes in IoT solutions for healthcare, hospitality, and education customers. The firm got its start with IoT offering a sensor-based solution for hospitals after Ken Goldie, president and chief operations officer for The Goldie Group, noticed that nurses and healthcare workers were being bogged down with "mundane" tasks after spending time in the hospital after the birth of his child.

"I realized there were certain things happening in the hospital that would require a nurse or another medical professional to leave to go do things like take temperature readings of refrigerators or food prep areas," Goldie said. "There's ways to improve the quality of patient care and drive costs down."

The Goldie Group started with Sprint's temperature and humidity sensor solution for the hospital. "It's cost-effective, a lot more reliable, and gives visibility to a lot more people," he said. From there, the firm started to look at other issues that the hospital had to address those with IoT. "It just scaled from there," Goldie added.

While working directly with end customers, the Goldie Group is also working with solution providers to help them understand and harness IoT opportunities. IoT gives partners the opportunity to replicate a use case to solve a popular pain point for multiple customers and even new help new clients that they perhaps wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach, Goldie said.

"IoT is a natural progression of a value-added service that partners can embed into their offerings," he said.

The "walk" stage of IoT involves GPS solutions, such as fleet management and some smart building solutions. While many partners haven't entered the "run" stage yet, this stage includes deeper, custom integrations that can take 12-24 months to develop, Meer said.  

Beyond the Refrigeration Monitoring solution, partners have access to Sprint's other In A Box offerings, including Leak detection, a sensor-based offering that can help businesses identify leaks immediately and save money on water damage incidents, the Door Barricade Alert System, a smart solution that lets teachers and administrators lock down doors to an office or classroom while immediately alerting authorities that a lockdown is in place, or Feedback Buttons, a solution for the hospitality and retail segment that let businesses gather customer feedback and act quickly to keep customer satisfaction high.

In their third attempt at coming together, Sprint and T-Mobile finally received regulatory clearance to merge in a $26.5 billion deal at the end of July. Sprint's channel partner program will remain "business as usual," Meer and Yahrmatter told CRN.