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Into the IoT Partner Multiverse with Tech Data EMEA

Evan Unrue

Evan Unrue

Do you have the right tools, budgets, and expertise in place to take advantage of all the IoT world has to offer? Probably not. Most businesses are dealing with constrained budgets, limited resources, and a small staff. But that can be extremely troubling in today’s modern and digital landscape as customers demand better, faster, and more advanced solutions and services.

Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. There are multiple different partnerships and programs out there to help put IoT businesses on a successful path. Take Tech Data’s Better Together strategic alliance as an example. The company partnered with Intel® and Microsoft to leverage their unique knowledge and experience to create seamless end-to-end IoT solutions and improve business outcomes.

If you’re looking to learn more about how IoT partners can help you, what to look for in a partner, and the whole IoT solution provider ecosystem, then this podcast is for you.

Our Guest: Tech Data

Our guest this episode is Evan Unrue, European Chief Technologist for Data and IoT at Tech Data EMEA, a leading IT distributor and solutions aggregator. Evan works to make the world of IoT more accessible by fostering the proper IoT partnerships. He looks after the company’s technology strategy, evaluating and ensuring it has the right technology solutions and partners to support its distribution channel.

Podcast Topics

Evan answers our questions about:

  • (3:41) What drives enterprises to move toward IoT
  • (5:25) How successful companies have been at deploying this technology
  • (7:59) Easing the barrier of entry
  • (11:48) Solutions and use cases that support IoT development
  • (14:32) Tech Data’s Better Together Alliance with Microsoft and Intel®
  • (16:29) The value of IoT solutions aggregators
  • (18:37) What IoT businesses should think about moving forward
  • (22:38) Overcoming the biggest IoT business challenges

Related Content

To learn more about the IoT partner ecosystem, read How Tech Data EMEA Bridges the IoT Partner Ecosystem Gap. For the latest innovations from Tech Data, follow it on Twitter at @TechDataEurope and LinkedIn at TDSYNNEX.

 

This podcast was edited by Christina Cardoza, Associate Editorial Director for insight.tech.

 

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Transcript

Kenton Williston: Welcome to the IoT Chat, where we explore the trends that matter for consultants, systems integrators, and enterprises. I’m Kenton Williston, the Editor-in-Chief of insight.tech. Every episode, we talk to a leading expert about the latest developments in the Internet of Things. Today, I’m talking about the power of partnerships.

There is so much that goes into IoT development that, at times, it can be difficult to even know how to get started. But you don’t have to go at it alone. With the right partners, you can find a clear path forward.

Joining me today to talk about the ways you can pull a team together is Evan Unrue from Tech Data. Evan, thanks for joining us.

Evan Unrue: Really excited to have a discussion. Great topics.

Kenton Williston: So tell me about Tech Data and your role there.

Evan Unrue: Yeah. So Tech Data is possibly one of the biggest companies not very many people have heard of unless they’re in the channel. So we are a global technology distributor, really, I mean, we’ve been around for decades as an organization, but historically focused more on, let’s say, the enterprise side of things: data center, but also consumer technology, the whole gamut, really. A lot of technology passes through our hands. We don’t directly service end customers, So we have a network of channel resellers, system integrators, service providers, and they address the market directly, and we support them in providing them with portfolio and access to skills and training and a gamut of other things to help them sell and develop their strategy around it.

And then northbound of us are all the vendors where we effectively act as an extension of their, I suppose, reach and scale in the market, feet on the street in terms of sales, supporting those partners, the marketing efforts, et cetera. So that’s Tech Data. We’ve been working around data and IoT technologies for the last five years or so proactively. And it’s been quite a journey I think, for everyone in the industry.

Kenton Williston: Fabulous. And what is Evan in this grand scheme of Tech Data?

Evan Unrue: Absolutely. So I have the grand title of European Chief Technologist for data and IoT. They give you the chief title when they want you to be a jack-of-all-trades, a master of none, but effectively what that means is I look after some of the technology strategy with respect to how we present that to the channel, supporting our sales efforts and specifically how we solutionize.

One of the challenges with technologies like IoT and AI is that you can kind of do everything with it if you have the will and the disposable income, shall we say. So, what do you do? And also it’s a really complex ecosystem of not just technologies but companies. So one of the things that we try and do is to really present those technologies through the lens of business outcomes so that our partners can easily articulate that to their customers. Natural language. I look after our solutions side of things for Europe around data and IoT, but also I get the joy of valuing technologies from tens of different technology supplies among us, to kind of see what’s out there, see what could be a good fit in our portfolio. And I get to work with the likes of Intel and Microsoft, which is, of course, a pleasure.

Kenton Williston: Lovely. You’ve made me very worried, because my title is the Editor-in-Chief for insight.tech, which I should mention is an Intel program. So now you’ve got me really worried that I’ve mastered absolutely nothing with that “chief” in there.

Evan Unrue: But you’ve become the Jack of all.

Kenton Williston: There you go. I’ll take it. So one of the things that I think is really interesting about what you’re saying here is, just like you said, AI, IoT: These concepts are showing up everywhere if you’ve got money to spend. Maybe even if you don’t have money to spend. People are thinking about where and how they might need to use these technologies. And what’s behind that, what’s driving so many enterprises to look into IoT projects?

Evan Unrue: Oh, I mean, it’s incredibly multifaceted, I would say, depending on kind of where you sit, but ultimately everything is digital these days. And if you look at kind of what drives the economy, that’s always, all the way down to the consumer, and just look at the way that people consume those technologies. It’s forcing enterprise organizations to become more real time, more data driven, more informed, and more engaging across both their southbound channels down to the customer, and upstream how they interact with their suppliers.

So, really, data is becoming absolutely critical to their strategy. It always has been really, if you look back to the last decade or so, but really now, rather than data just being something that’s generated as a byproduct of an application that’s used, data is driving the applications, which are becoming business critical. So it’s a slightly different paradigm.

You look at supply chain, for example, they’re fragile things. If you look at what Amazon’s done, they’ve kind of forced the market to become incredibly transparent to their customers, if you’re operating the supply chain at every stage.

So all of these organizations are now having to deal with the fact that customers want to know where everything is, where it came from, is it ethically sourced, is it going to come tomorrow? All this kind of stuff requires just a momentous amount of orchestration, which requires data and intelligence and all these kinds of things. So really it’s about becoming data driven and digital so you can be more agile and more robust and more engaging on both ends of the spectrum.

Kenton Williston: Yeah. Makes sense. And so it sounds like even more than, this is a thing that’s happening, you’re saying this is a thing that has been happening. Which leads me to ask, well, okay, how well have companies been doing in their efforts to deploy these kinds of technologies?

Evan Unrue: I mean, I think we’ve seen the adoption of these technologies really springboard over the last couple of years. I mean, when we as Tech Data first stepped into this space, it was kind of interesting because you had a lot of organizations that were nurturing science projects, but not really pinning a business case to them in the right way. If you look like five years and prior, unless you were a Fortune 500, Fortune 1000 company that had an R & D budget that could afford to do that and then drive these things into the core of a business.

A lot of the SME market was suffering for either not having the ability to do that, or they were creating these interesting projects, but ultimately they weren’t really driving towards the business outcomes that the business stakeholders were looking to drive for.

So I think what we’ve seen now over the last couple of years is a bit more success in companies being laser focused on the outcome. A big part of that as well is really through the efforts of the vendor community and ecosystem. So that’s the CSPs, the likes of Microsoft, the silicon companies, the likes of Intel that are driving just an immense amount of innovation development through their channels and ecosystems. And the ISVs and the OEMs that are solutionizing off the back of all of that, rather than it being a disparate tool kit that somebody has to pick up and try and figure out how these Lego bricks go together, we’re seeing solutions come into the market which are more clear and concise in terms of the outcomes that you can drive with them.

So I think awareness of what you could do and what you should do had been a challenge for a lot of organizations a few years ago. I think now a lot of the concepts have been proven behind a lot of the solutions that exist in the likes of Microsoft, Intel, and others that are really driving those use cases and solutions and ISV offerings to the forefront of awareness within the end-customer community.

So I think the last couple of years, and I won’t mention a specific causal event, but we’ve obviously been through a few things, the last two years specifically, which I think has forced companies to look at how they do things better with data and putting the right budget in place for it.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, absolutely. And it sounds like a big part of what is shifting here really has to do with barriers to entry, and the fact that if you’re a small- to medium-sized enterprise you can’t afford a huge R & D department to work on all these very complex, interconnected technologies. You may not even have the right expertise in-house to even know how to do that in many cases I would imagine. So can you go into a little bit more detail with some of the things that this ecosystem of partners, and I would say it includes certainly Tech Data, and it sounds like Microsoft and Intel are pretty important partners to you, so maybe we can focus in on the three of you together. What exactly it is you’re doing to ease this barrier to entry.

Evan Unrue: I’m going to apologize in advance for using a terribly overused term, “democratization.” But the reality is we have seen a bit of a democratization around, certainly AI, and around some of the application stack that sits in front of these IoT infrastructures. What we’re driving for collectively, we have a big push towards solutions at Tech Data, and you only have to go on Microsoft’s or Intel’s websites for two minutes to look at their efforts around driving market-ready solutions, off-the-shelf solutions, is that for the common industry challenges there should be off-the-shelf offerings which can be implemented or at least used by the average business stakeholder.

And actually all of the complex things that you can do with AI or with IoT at scale should be reserved for the, let’s say, the complex problems that exist, where the right budgets exist, and where the payoff is big enough for that, where you still need that expertise. But for an organization that has the same problems, that if you are a small freight-logistics company you’ll have the same problems typically of any other small freight-logistics company. There should be solutions there to address whatever it is you’re looking to do, whether it’s optimizing your fleet and their roots and their maintenance, or whether it’s tracking assets through that supply chain. Whatever it is, those solutions should be off the shelf and ready to take to market.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, that totally makes sense. And I’ll speak a little bit more. So the term you mentioned, “market-ready solutions,” this is a specific Intel-driven program, that there are actually these things you can acquire called market-ready solutions. And like you were saying, the thing that’s interesting about these is not just, one, that they’re sort of a prepackaged, off-the-shelf approach, but also, two, they’re things that have been proven in actual deployments already. So you kind of know what you’re getting into. And I think that’s one of the things that can be scary about these complex technologies, especially, again, if you don’t have in-house expertise to really determine what these solutions are capable of doing, knowing that they’ve been deployed by a similar business to yours I would think would be a pretty big advantage.

Evan Unrue: Absolutely. And it’s an interesting thing for an end customer to have to think about, because I think sometimes this falls into the category of digital transformation as a whole, which it certainly is a part of, and attacking that as a whole can be a scary thing for a midmarket organization if you weren’t born in the cloud, for example. So you have two approaches.

You can either come with a top-down approach and have a uniform infrastructure that all these use cases can plug into, which is a bit of a larger effort but the payoff is there. Or you can start to look at the discrete parts of your business operations where you might have gaps in data, your physical operations might be leaking money and you’re not sure how you want to get control of that, and you start to deploy these tactical solutions, and really that’s what a lot of this is for.

So yeah, I mean the Intel® IoT Market Ready Solution program has been, there’s a bit of a spectrum of solutions that are in there, but primarily it’s about taking proven solutions by ISVs, OEMs, companies that have deployed these solutions over and over with customers, and then driving all the right contents and material out to the market. So the likes of a Tech Data are being a solution aggregator. Our job is to then provide the reach and scale of getting those solutions in front of a channel partner. You can take them to their customers and make them aware of what’s possible.

Kenton Williston: So can you give me some specific examples of use cases that you’ve seen, and what kinds of solutions Tech Data has been supporting in these areas? So we can put a little meat on the bones for what these things might actually do.

Evan Unrue: Yeah, absolutely. So I think certainly some of the prevalent solutions that we’ve seen interest out in the market for in the last couple of years have been, I think, smart building is certainly a big area, and there’s a few facets to that. Number one is how do you better manage and maintain the building? How do you reduce the cost of doing that? How do you get in front of problems as they’re happening, rather than let them become lingering issues? But also within that, energy is a big topic. Certainly a lot of companies are being tasked with being more proactive with their sustainability efforts, but also being more cautious in terms of how people occupy the space when looking at their well-being and their safety in light of, let’s just say, recent events.

So smart buildings, energy, these particular areas have been real hot spots. So we are working with organizations like IAconnects, for example, just to name one, that has a great deal of experience and knowledge in this space. But also if you look at another impact that we’ve seen over the last few years is really retail in the High Street is now just looking to reassert itself in terms of being able to make sure that they are resilient on the High Street in terms of being able to deal with things. But also they are giving people more reasons to come to the High Street in terms of being engaged with customers and extending their digital journey into the physical store.

So we have companies like Ombori for example, and Wonder Store, where really they’re able to, number one, understand a customer’s journey for a physical-store environment, which is kind of like the Google Analytics–level of data: you get an e-commerce providing that back to the store so they can better plan their store layouts. They can better optimize how they’re marketing to the demographics they’re seeing, be more impactful, and also see better conversions, really supporting that growth, but also being more engaging. So, there’s a colleague of mine that likes to use the term “phygital,” which is the combination of physical and digital, which applies especially at the High Street.

And that’s, number one, being contextual in terms of how you interact with a customer. That might be through signage, that might be through interactive displays and identifying who they are, where they might sit in terms of demographics, and putting something in front of them that’s relevant, but also things like Lift and Learn technologies being able to interact with products in unique ways. So we’ve seen a whole gamut of things, also things like Smart City as well, and they’re helping improve citizen services such as parking, and all these kinds of things that become really key.

Kenton Williston: That’s really great. And one of the things that I’m wondering about here is, at the highest level you mentioned this Better Together alliance. Why have you formed this alliance, and why have you decided to work with Microsoft and Intel specifically, and how does that relate back to these solutions you’re talking about?

Evan Unrue: That’d be number one, just to mention Intel technology and Microsoft technology has kind of been ubiquitous in enterprise since year dot, certainly since the age of year.com. So the organizations have been coexisting in the enterprise space for a long time, but with regards to technologies like IoT, for example, there’s been a really, really strong focus from both organizations to be driving and promoting the industry applications around IoT, and in terms of the technology development of roadmap.

So if you look at Intel, for example, they’ve really been driving programs to push, I suppose, a simplification process through developers, through these organizations to help them build these solutions at the edge, bringing on technology, such as computer vision, using tool kits, such as OpenVINO to really help them accelerate their journey to create meaningful solutions. And you kind of pair that with all the expertise and experience that Microsoft brings, not just from the cloud, which ranges all the way from being able to do really complex and difficult but very powerful and insightful things in very bespoke environments, through to very plug-and-play-type offerings with our IoT central platforms, which is really geared towards midmarket.

You bring those together, and it’s kind of “one plus one equals five,” rather than two. It’s a very powerful combination. And because of that we are seeing a number of the solution providers that we work with have chosen Microsoft and Intel as the combination of choice. So it’s not just us that’s kind of chosen this. There’s a number of relationships that we have where Intel and Microsoft have been selected as the combination that they really feel is most powerful and impactful.

Kenton Williston: So that totally makes sense. And I guess maybe I should think about this the other way around: why have Microsoft and Intel chosen to get together with Tech Data in this alliance, and how is Tech Data bringing value to this as an IoT solution aggregator?

Evan Unrue: Yeah, so it’s an interesting question. And actually Intel have the IoT solution aggregator program, but before we’d even enter into that program, we’d started referring to ourselves as a solution aggregator. One of the big challenges historically, although improving in the market, has been trying to understand how to break through the multiple stakeholders from a technology standpoint that are required to bring these solutions together. So part of our job is to aggregate all the different technology players within that value chain, and simplify the consumption of those solutions.

And that’s been part of our strategy from the beginning, really, not just being a one-stop shop, but also adding value to that in terms of making sure that the ways resellers and customers can onboard the concepts of these solutions without having to get bogged down at the technology—that’s been at the forefront of our thinking.

From an Intel perspective, they’ve done great work fostering the developer in the ISV and the OEM community, but they’re also a little bit removed from the coal face in terms of who’s selling what, and one of the things that we do is we connect them to that through our interaction with the resellers, like we do for any vendor, really.

And from a Microsoft perspective, we’ve had a keen joint focus around IoT since the beginning of us stepping into this. So there’s some good history there. So all of the rights, goals, and motivations and vision are there in terms of them being common goals and having a common vision. But also we’ve been working with Microsoft and Intel at scale across multiple markets globally for a number of years. So we understand exactly how they want to execute this. And again, it’s very much aligned to our own goals. So I think there’s just strong alignment, strong execution capability, and we complement each other in all the right ways.

Kenton Williston: Excellent. So looking at everything we’ve been talking about so far, a lot of it has been kind of: where have we been? Where are we now? I’m curious, looking forward as you’re engaging with your customers, what some of the trends might be going forward that businesses should be thinking about as we get into the coming year?

Evan Unrue: Yeah. I mean, it depends what business you are ultimately, and where you sit. IoT can generate data and you can build dashboards with that data and gain a real-time view of what’s happening. And that’s powerful. One of the big things that we are seeing now, especially through this democratization-of-our-AI piece I talked about earlier, apologies for the buzzword again, but is leveraging AI to make sure that you are driving some insight around what the action should be from that data.

This is what we see from a lot of the ISVs that we work with. They’re focusing on what the action, the outcome should be, rather than just gaining some visibility and transparency into whatever it is you’re monitoring. So that’s a big kind of key thing.

Computer vision from a technology standpoint is really, I suppose, within the top three, two maybe aspects of what we’re seeing from a technology dimension that is the ultimate sensor. Because really it’s entirely programmable to be able to detect whatever you can detect through a camera. And these are use cases that could range all the way from traffic control and waste management and public safety from a smart city perspective, through to gaining deeper and richer insights, stronger engagement from a retail and store perspective, or simply just improving security from a store perspective or a public space, all the way through to improving things like quality and, again, improving things like safety if you’re working in warehousing environments.

So computer vision is a really strong one for me, just because it’s such a versatile technology that can underpin countless use cases, all in areas that people are asking for today. So that’s probably a big one for me.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, I absolutely agree. And like you said, I think it’s showing up basically everywhere because there are so many use cases, like you talked about earlier. For example, the idea of smart buildings and making them more efficient and safer, healthier environments. And there’s many things that go into that, but just even things like people counting. I’m old and gray enough that I remember when you used to have the little infrared beam that you would break going through a doorway. And that’s how people would know if somebody had come into the facility or not, and you could get some kind of count. We’ve come an awful long way from that now that you can do everything from telling, not just how many people are coming in, but what the demographics of the folks who might be entering a facility are, and are they congregating in one area more than you want or not.

And, like if you’re in a retail environment, where are they stopping to look at things, and just having this huge range of things you can do and just take one set of hardware, your cameras, and just do more and more and more interesting things with it over time, I think is incredibly powerful, and is really changing a lot of different businesses.

Evan Unrue: Absolutely. I talked earlier about vision and retail kind of providing Google Analytics for the physical space, just the wealth of ways it can improve engagement and planning and alignment to the customer journey and enable them to kind of A/B test and tweak different scenarios between stores. It’s just such a powerful thing, certainly in that space.

And obviously one area just to mention, which kind of feels like a no brainer for people that have been working around IoT for some time, but for maybe those that haven’t, any organization that has any asset that’s critical to their business and understanding, is it working? Is it healthy? Is it performing as it should? Is it where I expect it to be? Things like predictive maintenance and asset tracking and all these kind of things as well, these still remain really strong use cases. And whereas I suppose, again, two, three, four years ago, we were seeing a lot of pilots and whatever else, and the larger projects came from the larger companies. We’re now seeing this filter down into the midmarket again.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, absolutely. Which leads me to ask, we’ve talked about some of the hurdles folks have faced in the past, particularly around budgets. And I imagine that, looking forward, if we’re talking about new technologies that are even more unfamiliar, like computer vision, which I would imagine a lot of small and medium enterprises haven’t touched on at all to date, what some of the biggest challenges might be that companies may not be thinking about that they should be aware of as they’re getting into these areas.

Evan Unrue: I think the biggest thing for me, really, in this space is getting the support of the wider business. One of the challenges that was kind of expressed around IoT for some time is that actually the first use case provided might not be the one that delivers the whole ROI if you limit it to that one part of the business.

So really try and understand who the different stakeholders are that are going to benefit from these solutions and bring them to the table, bring them to the discussion. We talked about these retail offerings, for example, and actually it’s not always about ROI. There are some things that just have to be done. Certainly retailers don’t want to have to close stores because they can’t meet conditions around social distancing properly or understand their capacity properly. So that’s kind of a slightly different story, but when it comes to looking at digital engagement within the store and pulling their analytics, when you filter that across the business outside of just the store operators and you start to bring it into the planning side of the business, you start to bring it into the marketing side of the business, you start to bring in maybe merchandising and third parties that advertise and offer them space and data around footfall, and bring in a bit more of a community around those use cases that can benefit, then it helps the payoff become a lot more substantial in terms of justifying the business case.

So kind of one thing I would say is don’t be an island in exploring these innovations. Maybe you have to do some proof of value initially, but try and get the broader business engaged as soon as you can.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, absolutely. And going back to this whole idea about ecosystem, but I think it’s pretty interesting what you’re pointing out here is that SMEs can create sort of their own ecosystems in many cases; it’s not just about one use case, but look across all your businesses to see where this technology can help. And there’s sort of an internal ecosystem there in a sense. And then the partners that you’re working with in your facilities, there could be ways that sharing data, sharing capabilities can help both sides of the equation there.

Evan Unrue: Yeah. So I like to call it the IoT multiverse, because there’s so many different dimensions in terms of the type of companies that play here, whether it’s the connectivity channels or more in the silicon channels, or more just the cloud channels. A big part of what we’ve done is kind of brought that together as best we can.

And I suppose Microsoft and Intel power a lot of solutions out in the marketplace. And those are often realized through solution providers, vendors, ISVs that have a particular industry focus and expertise. So there are organizations, I mentioned one earlier, such as IAconnects. They have a really strong background. Their origins are in being an OTSI in the construction and the built environment space and the adhesive side of things. And through their own experience they developed into having their own IP, which really addressed the issue of, number one, being able to connect things that had been islands within the built environment before, initially maybe just to get visibility, but then to be able to drive control and automation. And ultimately you start to scale that out across companies with broad real estate. It gives them massive cost savings and benefits of being able to do that at scale.

So that’s kind of one. Then we work with organizations like Wonder Store, which are really focused on retail and providing, let’s say, that view of the customers: their movements through the physical space, how they’re flowing through a store, where they’re dwelling on certain things, where they might be looking at a particular piece of signage, how much of that footfall converted to point of sale conversion. And they’ve got a real expertise around that.

And then we have companies like Ombori, for example, which operate in a similar space, but they extend a little more into the engagement side of things. So things like interactive signage, being able to drive more actual control and automation off the back of understanding that footfall, but also being able to incorporate digital signage around the customer experience, extending the customer’s visibility of product beyond what’s on the shelf and then optimizing how they might consume that and purchase that rather than just having to stand in a queue or wait for customer service.

Kenton Williston: And so it sounds like a big area where Tech Data adds value is just connecting the dots, completing the discovery process so that you can help your customers understand even what’s possible because the scale and scope of what’s happening out there is developing so rapidly, and help them find the right solutions that will actually enable those use cases and help them be successful in deploying.

Evan Unrue: One of the things I’ve always said is that, as distribution we have one of the most privileged positions in terms of being able to derive insight from the market.

Number one, we get to see the hopes and dreams and fears of all of our vendors, big and small, and what they’re trying to achieve and what their strategies are. What their five year out plan might be, for example. And then on the other end of the spectrum we get to see what the partners are doing and where their heads are at. Where their strategies have evolved or haven’t. Who are the early adopters? Who are the laggards? How do we help them move from one bucket into another and maintain relevance in the market? And really sitting in between all of that we are perfectly primed to drive execution of a program like this, which can really bridge the gap between the vendors’ aspirations and their knowledge and their technologies and expertise, but also our understanding of those channels and how to drive adoption into the right technology spaces.

Kenton Williston: Makes sense. So Evan, I want to give you just a total wide-open question, which is we’ve covered a ton of really fascinating topics here. And I think this really has helped improve my understanding really of what’s happening in the small/medium enterprise space. And that’s amazing. And what I’m wondering is given all the complexities in this space and everything that’s changing so quickly, is there’s something happening really important that you say to yourself, “Man, I really wish Kenton had asked me about this.”

Evan Unrue: Yeah. I mean, I suppose one thing that we didn’t touch on so much, which is really at the heart of Intel’s play here, because their whole play isn’t just computer vision and powering ISVs and OEMs, they have a big push, and it’s not actually just a push it’s a pull in the market really, which they’re supporting, which is the importance of edge compute.

We’ve seen these technology architectures go from distributed to centralized, to distributed, to centralized, and back and forth. But one of the things that we’ve really seen become critical with, certainly the adoption of IoT, where you have mass amounts of data being generated at the edge and actually that data might need to be processed and impact a process at the edge. Edge computing, whilst there are still solutions that may not require it, such as asset tracking and other things, edge computing is becoming pretty critical with the volumes of data that can be created and with the organization’s ability or needs to drive action rather than just deliver data off the back of these solutions, where the cloud, whilst powerful and important for all of the things that we’ve discussed in terms of getting a broad view across multiple assets, across multiple locations, having more horsepower behind you to drive deeper and richer insights, all of that’s important, but also localization of being able to automate and drive AI locally is important.

And actually Microsoft realized that if you look at what they’ve done with things like Azure Stack with as Azure edge SDKs case, now all of those are in acknowledgement that actually some of the services they provide they need to be able to push to the edge as well as having at the cloud, which is something that they do hand-in-hand with Intel.

Kenton Williston: Yeah, absolutely. I think it gets back to a lot of what you were saying earlier about the long track record these companies have, and the accessibility of this technology, and the way that nobody really knows where it’s going to go next. It’s very helpful to have these reliable partners, Intel and Microsoft and Tech Data, who’ve been in the space for a long time and understand where things have been, where they are, and where they might go next. So with that, Evan, I want to thank you so much for joining us today. Really appreciate your insights and your time.

Evan Unrue: Oh, thank you. It’s been a great discussion, and thank you for hosting me.

Kenton Williston: And thanks to our listeners for joining us. To keep up with the latest from Tech Data, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn at TD Synnex. If you enjoyed listening, please support us by subscribing and rating us on your favorite podcast app. This has been the IoT Chat. We’ll be back next time with more ideas from industry leaders at the forefront of IoT design.

 

The preceding transcript is provided to ensure accessibility and is intended to accurately capture an informal conversation. The transcript may contain improper uses of trademarked terms and as such should not be used for any other purposes. For more information, please see the Intel® trademark information.

This transcript was edited by Erin Noble, copy editor.

About the Author

Kenton Williston is an Editorial Consultant to insight.tech and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication as well as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.

Profile Photo of Kenton Williston