Take your experience in government, transportation, utilities and energy, telecom and construction into smart cities to help gather and analyze data from bridges, lamp posts, buses, fire hydrants, patrol cars, cell towers, water meters, public trash cans, and more.
After multiple discussions with those at the forefront of building smart cities, I’m coining “the 3 C’s” as the roadmap for success for solution integrators seeking out new smart city business. Thought leaders like Ann Morgan, the North America state and local marketing lead for SAP, and others make a convincing argument that all smart city technology paths rely on this trio: contracts, channels, and collaboration.
Contracts. First, contracts are the name of the game and can shorten the sales cycle, period. If you are trying to sell your IoT services, it’s critical that you have access to, or are part of, some type of buying vehicle or contract. One major regional contract used by many states is NASPO, which can potentially shorten the three-bid process required by a Request for Proposal (RFP). Many states have pre-negotiated buying contracts that usually vary by state, so best to brush up on what your target market is using and how you can leverage those contracts where possible.
Channels. Government agencies can rarely buy anything direct, which makes channels the critical second part of this equation. A distribution channel can create exchange efficiency by reducing the number of contacts needed to get things in-market, and it can perform many functions like transportation, storage, selling, scale of operation, and advertising better than manufacturers can.
You can speed your time to market by learning about which distribution channels exist and their contracts. Or, you can partner with those who are already well-versed in this space. For this very reason, channel marketing is a key influencer when selling in this space. Many service providers develop joint, go-to-market strategies that bundle complimentary services together since government regulations usually drive contract requirements that can be a barrier to entry. Some examples of distribution channel providers for the state and local market are CDW-G, Carahsoft, and immixGroup.
Collaboration. Finally, the last C is collaboration. Smart cities are a community of people working together toward a common goal. As a result, it is critical to learn who the key stakeholders are and build relationships with them, so you can understand and help support their long-term business goals. Also, set clear ground rules around the data. Understand from the start who is going to own the IoT data from a “data governance” perspective across the community and how that data will be managed and monetized over time.
On the Ground Insight
According to Rubens Costa, the Connected Lighting Business Leader at Signify, “Smart city leadership teams have great visions for what they want to create, and where they need help is how to build plans to support those visions.” He notes that consulting services and collaboration can play a huge role by integrating all the different pieces across the ecosystem, especially providing help to get things up and running. “For example, if every company across the project is using a standard Signify sensor ready luminaire with Zhaga sensors, this can reduce integration issues, data management, and development time to market,” he says.
Plus, since many companies are experts in only their area, an integrator can bring them together to focus on the project’s end goal, not just the specific task at hand. Some of the market leaders who are collaborating in this space today to solve problems for smart cities are ESRI and Trimble.
While working with these communities, Dante Ricci from SAP’s global marketing team and the public sector lead says, “It helps to think about how the solutions you build today could scale tomorrow into other areas. For instance, solutions that are developed for a city usually can be repeated in some form or fashion in rural areas.” Ricci recommends supporting that evolution by asking yourself, “What problem is my technology solving, and where else can it be implemented?”
The art-of-the-possible approach really can drive a growth mindset, and that helps everyone benefit long-term. And don’t forget to buy yourself a ticket to some of the largest annual smart city trade shows and start networking, so you can make your mark with IoT projects and generate new business. Check out Smart City Expo World Congress and IoT Solutions World Congress.