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As IT moves deeper into the factory the channel should follow

Schneider Electric is urging partners to get involved with the convergence happening between the operational technology and information technology worlds

Schneider Electric is alerting partners to changes that are happening as a result of IT spreading into different parts of the industrialised world.

IT is spreading into more areas in the factory, and as a result the channel is being given a chance to target customers from a fresh angle.

Schneider has been responding to the changes by ensuring it has the relationships in place with some of the other manufacturers serving the industrial segment and recently extended its co-development with Aveva industrial edge reference designs, which includes solutions from Lenovo and Stratus.

Kevin Brown, senior vice-president at EcoStruxure Solutions and chief marketing officer for the secure power division of Schneider Electric, said that from a channel perspective there were clear opportunities emerging from the convergence between operational technology (OT) and IT.

“People have been talking about the industrial edge and Industry 4.0 quite a bit, but what’s really happening is that IT is getting deployed into the factory,” he said.

Brown said the convergence was still in its relatively early days and many customers were running pilots and looking at proof of concepts. That gave the IT channel base time to get involved with the emerging opportunity.

For the channel, Brown said the industrial edge involved talking to a different audience and would take them into new places: “For our channel partners, this is new and truly incremental revenue that is coming.”

The vendor has been encouraging more involvement with its technology through the EcoStruxure Open API option and is encouraging collaboration between OT and IT specialists through the Schneider Electric Exchange.

Brown said the firm was also holding more discussions internally between those responsible for the IT channel and those that had fostered relationships with OT specialists in the industrial operation.

“Schneider Electric Exchange is a community to help them reach each other and work on joint opportunities. Industrial edge is a new opportunity and we are doing a lot to enable partners to invest in that,” he added. “We will help them, or enable them to do it themselves.”

The vendor has launched a 14-part programme to help the channel navigate through the main trends and requirements in the industrialised edge world and there are also opportunities for resellers to gain certifications to underline their credentials in this area.

Brown said there was an opportunity for the channel to help ease customer pain points around monitoring and securing the environment, and although it was open to working with fresh partners it felt that it could get its existing base in a position to support the industrial edge environment.

The vendor has more than 400 IT solution providers globally that are already certified to build, deploy and service edge computing solutions.

“The channel partners that are the most successful will need to think of new business models they can get into. The ones that have that capability are heading in the right direction,” he concluded.

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