As the founder of a CRM application provider, Tom Siebel knows all too well how important the channel can be when it comes to building a company. Now Siebel, the founder and CEO of C3.ai, a provider of a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environment optimized for internet of things (IoT) applications, is gearing up to dust off that channel playbook.
With an eye toward 2018, when IoT applications are expected to become more widely deployed, Siebel said his company will have a channel program in place that will foster both the development and deployment of IoT applications.
The difference today, Siebel added, is that the time to delivering value needs to be significantly condensed. Back in the days when Siebel was leading a company that pioneered the adoption of CRM applications in the enterprise, the typical project took 18 months to deploy. IT solution providers tended to appreciate that because it created a lot of opportunity for billable hours.
However, Siebel pointed out that in the age of the cloud, customers no longer have patience for lengthy application deployments. So IT solution providers need to deploy applications that start delivering a return to the business in as little as one to three months.
To achieve that goal, C3.ai developed a PaaS environment based on a data object model that enables IoT applications to be managed at a higher level of abstraction. Of course, C3.ai is not the only provider of a PaaS environment targeting IoT applications. GE, for example, has invested heavily in an implementation of the open-source Cloud Foundry PaaS.
But Siebel is largely dismissive of any attempt by a company that does not develop technology platforms as its primary focus. He argues that companies such as GE will soon discover it makes more financial sense to license technology than to continue diverting resources from their primary mission by investing in IT infrastructure rather than applications.
IoT remains a nascent multitrillion dollar opportunity for the channel. The decision many channel partners need to make now is determining how involved they want to get in lower-level commodity IoT infrastructure versus focusing more of their efforts on applications that often generate a lot more business value.