IoT partner programmes choosing depth over breadth as maturity grows and enrolment falls

Ryan Harbison of Abi Research

In its recent analysis ranking 547 companies on their IoT service capabilities, ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, finds that partner programmes and their member companies are continuing to mature in their IoT offerings while simultaneously decreasing the average number of members per partner program.

In fact, 65% of listed organisations received a high IoT maturity grade, which is nearly 2½ times the number of organisations that received a high maturity ranking when ABI Research first analysed these IoT ecosystems back in September 2015. Partner program parents such as Amazon Web Services, Dell, and IBM are aligning themselves with fewer, higher-value partners who can better help end-users navigate the convoluted IoT ecosystem.

“Size matters when it comes to these partner programs,” says Ryan Harbison, research analyst at ABI Research. “While it’s tempting for many of these partner programs to have the highest number of partners, eventually there’s a breaking point where the partner program is just as difficult for end-users to navigate the overall IoT ecosystem. As a result, the most successful partner programs today have focused on forging new alliances with a smaller number of like-minded and more established partners across multiple sectors to a broader range of customers.”

Partner program parents need to ensure that their partners can effectively address the current major needs of the market while also addressing high-growth niche vertical markets, with companies like Dell and AWS showing that it’s possible to address these changing market dynamics without being encumbered by hundreds of partners. AWS’ IoT Competency program ensures that its partners have a high-depth of IoT expertise to meet end-user needs, while Dell’s IoT Solutions Partner Ecosystem is focused on having both technology and services partners who can address specific use cases.

The three most targeted verticals within these partner program ecosystems have consistently been healthcare, manufacturing, and energy applications, but over the past three years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of partners offering solutions targeting the digital signage, wearable, and smart building markets due to end-user demand.

“The most successful partner programs are the ones that strike the right balance between the breadth and depth of their partner program offering,” concludes Harbison. “Enterprises and end-users across all vertical markets will continue to turn to these ecosystems to more effectively navigate the otherwise fragmented technology and supplier landscape.”

These findings are from ABI Research’s SI/VAR and Partner Program IoT Ecosystem Market Data report.

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