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Drive Innovation for 'Internet of Things' Through Field Service

Now that the Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling companies to follow their products and customers no matter where they go, the door to new revenue streams is wide open. So wide, in fact, that companies need help sorting it all out. One partner has found the field service can be a logical way for companies to turn all that data into revenue. And a way for technology providers to capitalize on IoT.

Kris Brannock, EVP of Vertical Solutions, has written several intriguing posts about the connection between field service and IoT for the company blog. "Could the Glue of the Internet of Things be Field Service?" suggests that IoT presents "long tail" opportunities to all companies -- whether they are historically considered a field service company or not. Long tail opportunity refers to the creative use of data gathered in the field to add new service offerings to a company's repertoire. 

Cincinnati-based Vertical Solutions has been developing software for industries with heavy field service requirements, including HVAC and manufacturing, for more than 25 years. The ISV's cloud-based solutions include VServiceManagement and VContactCenter, both built on Microsoft technology.

In a conversation with Brannock, she explained how field service conversations are expanding out of the traditional industries and out of the traditional field service boundaries. Companies are looking for creative, innovative ways that they can deliver services in response to data collected through sensors -- from manufacturers providing preventive maintenance to hospitals servicing medical equipment.   

"Our customers are seeing how cheap and easy it is to have sensors in their products. The next question is 'What do we do with that data?'" notes Brannock. "We see the potential of IoT getting bigger and bigger."

Which is where the opportunity for Microsoft partners comes into play. "Strategic advising from partners can help customers identify their long-tail service opportunities," says Brannock. "In the past, field service was typically reactive but now is moving into the preventive space. Companies are looking for innovative services that can be created from the data they are collecting from machines."

Partners working in any vertical can help their customers identify opportunities to expand revenue streams through IoT with data collected in the field. As Brannock suggests, "Partners can look at their own core business and see how IoT fits in those markets. You want to stay ahead of your clients."

Another of Brannock's posts, "Microsoft's $2.5B Minecraft Acquisition Spotlights a Hidden Gem: Field Service Technology," is also an interesting read. In it, she suggests that the legion of gamers who play Microsoft's recent acquisition, Minecraft, could be the next generation of IoT developers. Young minds able to see the world from a different perspective will recognize new ways to apply all the data collected from connected devices.

In the post Brannock writes, "However, this next generation is entwined in sharing and combining. Solo intellectual property is often foreign. Everything is a building block. Sensors attached to various devices are no different. These are things that can be networked to create endless opportunities  --  a virtual playground for our next generation of inventors."

From whatever perspective you take, IoT opens doors for partners to have conversations that help customers evolve their businesses. Which is where technology service providers have to be to survive in their own changing service landscape. When you work strategically with customers to bring data to life, translating data into opportunity is how you really add value.

How are you helping your customers innovate with the IoT? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on November 12, 2014