How Integrators Can Reap Rewards of IoT

Anixter execs offer integrators advice on how to capitalize from IoT trend through maintenance contracts and understanding product life cycles.

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For more than 60 years, Anixter has been a leading provider of security solutions for homes, businesses, schools and various vertical market industries. While the global distributor, with more than 300 locations worldwide, still offers a broad range of traditional security products, such as alarm systems, sensors, sirens and the like, it continues to refine its portfolio to keep pace with industry trends.

“We make it our mission to investigate and fully understand new technologies as they come along,” says Andy Jimenez, Anixter vice president of technology—Network & Security Solutions. “Our engineers keep a close pulse on the industry by staying actively involved with organizations including the Telecommunications Industry Association, Institute of Electronics Engineers, and ONVIF.

IoT, Open Platform Communication

Two of the biggest drivers poised to alter the home systems landscape and profoundly change the way integrators handle their business, he says, are the Internet of Things (IoT) and systems that communicate via an open platform.

“Fifteen years ago, systems were installed and integrators didn’t need to worry that their customers would fall prey to cyber risks or hiccups in the communications chain.”

— Bob Dolan, Anixter

Both IoT and open communications platforms present challenges for integrators, no doubt. Namely, the need to protect clients from vulnerabilities like hacking and communications snafus. According to Bob Dolan, director of technology—Network & Security Solutions, “Fifteen years ago, systems were installed and integrators didn’t need to worry that their customers would fall prey to cyber risks or hiccups in the communications chain.”

Those times have changed, and with those new issues also come new revenue-boosting opportunities for integrators. During a Media Day held recently at the Anixter Infrastructure Solution Labs, in Glenview, Ill., executives presented effective ways to leverage IoT and interoperability in order to stay “sticky” with residential and commercial clients:

Solid Maintenance Contracts: Customers need to feel protected from the increased risks that new technologies present, and that means having a maintenance program in place that provides them with valuable peace of mind.

Leverage the IP: Use the data collected (with their permission, of course) from customers’ IP devices to develop new business strategies.  For example, if you notice an IP-connected video doorbell is unable to “see” images after 9 p.m., you can follow up by offering your clients a motion triggered light—and you can do this before they even realize lighting is a problem.

Introduce an Upgrade Path: Your customers recognize obsolescence as a natural part of a technology lifecycle. They’ll feel better about investing in your products and services if you present them with a logical upgrade path from the get-go. Being upfront eliminates surprises, breeds trust, and helps your client plan more effectively for their future.

Examples of product lifecycles include:

  • Cable infrastructure: 15 years
  • Indoor fixed camera: 7 years
  • Storage devices: 5 years

Interoperability Is Key

With so much at risk yet so much to gain, IoT adds an often complex wrinkle to systems integration. Bandwidth, interoperability, and security are all integral facets to the reliability of a system. Often, it’s not until after a system has been installed into a home or business that these issues surface. To help integrators minimize the risk, overcome installation challenges, and ensure system reliability from the onset, Anixter offers integrators the opportunity to test complete solutions at its Infrastructure Solutions Lab, at the company headquarters in Glenview.  

“Our technical experts in The Lab analyze performance and quality across product lines and test for the interoperability of multiple subsystems,” says Jimenez.

Integrators can do the following at the Lab:

  • Demonstrate the image quality of dozens of analog and IP surveillance cameras. Cameras can be tested in various lighting conditions to determine the best product for a particular application.
  • Evaluate a network infrastructure to be sure it will successfully handle bandwidth demands.
  • Determine optimal cabling solutions to support high-speed data applications.
  • Test solutions that integrate the logical and physical elements of a building’s data, voice, video and automation systems.
  • Conduct proof of concepts.

IoT should be a part of your game plan—it’s where the market is headed. Distributors like Anixter are helping foster a better understanding of the technology so you can deliver secure, reliable solutions to your customers. Take advantage of testing facilities like the Anixter Infrastructure Solutions Lab to leverage IoT both as a product offering and a stream of recurring revenue. 

About the Author

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Lisa Montgomery:

Lisa Montgomery has been a member of the CE Pro and Electronic House editorial teams for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor of Electronic House. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in adding electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home.

Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what is on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books.

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