Arrow’ IoT Immersions Event: Driving Innovation

By: Denise Lund

Arrow held its IoT Immersions Event in Boston on March 26, 2015. The event was the last of
four such events in a U.S. roadshow designed to showcase Arrow’s vision for innovation. With its
overarching theme of “Five Years Out”, Arrow showcased its role in envisioning, integrating, and delivering
unique IoT solutions. The event keynote illustrated how applying technical and creative approaches,
leveraging hardware, software and services spanning the ecosystem, resulted in a major and deeply
meaningful smart automobile solution innovation. The Arrow SAM Project illustrated how a corvette can
be driven using head movements. Arrow had Sam Schmidt, a qualified quadriplegic race car driver, coowner
of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and founder of non-profit Conquer Paralysis Now lead the keynote
to describe his intense journey leading up to and including the day he drove this race car.

Arrow clearly wants to be a single point in the IoT ecosystem across hardware, software, and services.
Arrow used the Immersions event to showcase its role and core competency in bringing together holistic
IoT solutions, leveraging numerous suppliers and partners. Example vendors in Arrow’s broad ecosystem
of IoT vendors speaking at the event included:

  • Eurotech with its complete stack solution and development services for companies looking
    to create an IoT solution: Eurotech offers hardware, software, and a software abstraction
    layer, or platform and promotes its value as inclusive of being agnostic to connectivity type,
    including its openness to edge computing
  • Renesas, NimbeLink, and Bug Labs with their joint demonstration of cloud connected
    solutions generating data that is visible in a simple, readily available dashboard:The three
    vendors promoted the availability and ease with which data can be generated, accessed,
    and visualized, and emphasized that the ease and speed with which these types of solutions
    can be pulled together and demonstrated can help business and IT leads sell the value
    proposition of their IoT vision to their management

More valuable than any single IoT demo at the Arrow IoT Immersions event, however, are the broader IoT
end-to-end solution considerations that came out in the daylong event. These considerations are reflective
of enterprise and industry needs. These are critical to Arrow, a distributor with a goal of being a major
player in helping customers design and deploy holistic IoT solutions from hardware to connectivity to
applications and data visualization. During the event, the following buyer needs and opportunities were
emphasized:

  • The need to reduce friction across the IoT ecosystem: With the vast array of hardware
    and software and connectivity options, buyers are overwhelmed with what combination will
    achieve their IoT solution goal.
  • The need for unbiased IoT solution design: This was discussed at the event primarily in
    the context of connectivity choices, but also with regard to mobile device, application, and
    dashboard analytics platforms. Connectivity at the edge can be as powerful as cellular
    connectivity in the right use cases, and Arrow made its stance on the topic clear – agnostic.
    Vendors on hand spoke of the breadth of connectivity they support, IoT solution designs
    incorporating any one of a number of gateway designs, as well as flexibility with cellular
    modems themselves (i.e., via cellular adapters that can be snapped to the gateway and
    enable the gateway to accommodate the range of 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE connectivity types)
  • The opportunity for entire IoT solutions to be deployed and billed “as a service”: While
    some software-oriented platform Arrow partners and suppliers are not yet at a magnitude
    in their customer base where the “as a service”, recurring revenue models are able to
    sustain their overall revenue goals, the desire for the revenue basis to be primarily recurring
    is there. The services model is essential to players like Arrow who are aspiring to tie together
    services in the IoT ecosystem for buyers.
  • The need for IoT solutions to be nimble and flexible, ultimately able to grow with
    buyers’ needs: Pros and cons exist for how deep device and connectivity management
    platforms in the IoT market reach, for example. One of Arrow’s partners on hand at the
    event, Cycle30, comes from the angle that the more agile the device and connectivity
    management platforms are, the more appropriate they are for the buyer’s stage in solution
    design and deployment. Cycle30 positioned its strength different from deep platforms that
    won’t be as easy and cost effective for buyers to grow with as their conceptualization of their
    IoT solution evolves over time. Cycle30 provides hosted device management and billing
    platform to Arrow clients.

It is clear that Arrow recognizes the unique capabilities required to become a holistic IoT solution provider.
It comes to the table with awareness that having a very broad set of hardware, software, and services
options will not only generate customer wins in such a nascent market, but will create opportunities for
Arrow to garner platform and other such services revenues itself. The Arrow ONE platform is one of the
very opportunities that Arrow is undertaking itself as an IoT solution provider. Working in close partnership
with Cycle30, the Arrow ONE platform fulfills device enablement capabilities and provides a white label
billing platform. No doubt that the IoT solutions market is ripe with varied buyer needs. IDC’s global IoT
survey results reveal that buyers find it important for IoT solution providers to bring an array of ecosystem
partners to the table. While Arrow brings the core competencies required to build and maintain a broad
ecosystem of vendors, it is likely to meet new competitors from the Wireless Service Provider base in its
expanded endeavor to become a holistic IoT solution provider. Some major Wireless Service Providers
have core competencies in building and maintaining a broad ecosystem of vendors on the platform and
application end of the IoT solution spectrum. Just how competitive battles like this will play out will depend
on how strongly each party can build the unique selling proposition around its depth and breadth of
experience.

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Internet of Things Ecosystem and Trends
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