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Although the Internet of Things (IoT) represents trillions of dollars in opportunity for the channel, the challenge is finding the expertise needed to tap that potential.

Hype notwithstanding, not all IoT opportunities are of equal value. IoT refers to everyday things—mobile devices, homes, cities, cars and other items—ubiquitously connected to the Internet and infused with intelligence for greater efficiency.

Many of the IoT market segments revolve around hardware with margins that are already razor-thin. In fact, the real IoT opportunity lies in developing applications that make sense of all the data being gathered by a machine-to-machine (M2M) system.

The trouble is that there is already a chronic shortage of application developers with IoT expertise, and worse yet, when it comes to IoT security, much more is unknown than known.

Digi-Key, a distributor with a lot of semiconductor expertise, has begun reaching out to the traditional IT channel to help solution providers get a better handle on the IoT opportunity. Mark Zack, vice president of global semiconductor products for Digi-Key, said the convergence of lower-cost processors and systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), big data analytics, open-source software and cloud computing is making it a lot easier to construct high-margin IoT solutions that address a compelling business issue.

In fact, it’s for that reason that people such as Reid Carlberg, director of evangelism for, are showing up at events such as the recent Machine-2-Machine Evolution conference that was held as part of the ITEXPO event in Miami. In fact, when it comes to selling IoT, Carlberg said that the most important thing might not be the technology at all, but rather how IoT systems ultimately improve a given customer experience.

What’s not clear right now is the degree to which solution providers that focus on M2M technologies will wind up merging with solution providers that today focus mainly on enterprise IT. But given all the players involved, it’s safe to say that it’s only a matter of time before some solution providers realize that when it comes to IoT, it’s all about making the whole a lot more valuable than the sum of its parts.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.