Avnet, which is transforming itself from a distributor to an integrator and technology provider, is launching an Internet of Things platform that will make it more of a software company.
The company has been working in IoT for years, but more for the supply chain and helping customers track assets. Now, it plans to enable customers to scale IoT deployments quickly and ultimately tap new markets.
At CES 2020, Avnet launched a suite of software platforms to accelerate IoT deployments. The suite combines Avnet's IoTConnect Platform with a new channel partner program, and an online marketplace of IoT devices and applications.
"You can't do IoT without a platform to save you time and money," said Peter Bartolotta, president of business transformation for Avnet. He added that a pair of acquisitions (Softweb and Witekio) has enabled Avnet to build out its suite. Avnet also has close ties to Microsoft Azure and uses the software giant's platform.
Bartolotta said the company is in its third year of its efforts to move from a component distributor to a solutions-based firm.
The addition of the partner program and marketplace could be pivotal for Avnet because it offers pre-canned formats to deploy IoT. These formats know the data that's required, how it should be presented, and sensor connections needed. "QuickConnect is designed so you won't have to start from scratch," explained Bartolotta. "You power this up and see the telemetry and data now."
The IoT partner program has a series of developer tools, including a sandbox, APIs, billing tools, knowledgebase, and SaaS packages. There will also be applications for smart factories, healthcare, buildings, fleet management, asset tracking, and retail as well as AI models and services.
AI via Azure is layered on top, but Bartolotta said data could be pulled from multiple clouds.
The Avnet suite for IoT will be sold based on consumption, licenses, and enterprise agreements. Bartolotta said Avnet plans to focus its IoT suite on its existing customers in markets such as industrial and automotive. The hope is that Avnet can bring systems integrators on board in the future, said Bartolotta.
While Avnet has a large base of customers all leveraging IoT, the company will have to reach out to chief information officers and expand its market. "The biggest challenge for us is getting people to know who we are. We're a $20 billion company no one knows," said Bartolotta. "We're not out there with consumers or CXO suite. Ultimately though, we see our solutions developing across verticals like smart buildings."