Walmart IoT Strategy Holds Key Lesson for MSPs

MSPs must always keep an eye towards the future. The reinvention of your managed services practice should always be happening if you want to remain ahead of the pack. One of the best ways you can predict the future in managed services is to listen to end-users.

Take Walmart as an example. A legacy retailer with stores all over the world, Walmart is competing aggressively with online retailer Amazon. To stay competitive, Walmart's CIO has established an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy to manage a variety of business activities within the company. Walmart has partnered with Microsoft to make this strategy a reality.

“We’re always looking for new ways to innovate and compete in a dynamic environment,” enterprise CIO Clay Johnson said. “This partnership will help us accelerate the progress on our cloud projects by leveraging IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence and data platform solutions.”

What MSPs Can Learn From Walmart

You may think that anything from Walmart is not directly applicable to your managed services practice, but I think there is quite a lot to be learned from their stated strategy.

  1. Technology is a necessary component of their competitive strategy. Although Walmart is a traditional brick and mortar store, they acknowledge that technology trends like IoT are crucial to their future.
  2. Outsourcing is key to their IT strategy. Despite being a massive company, even Walmart is outsourcing IT to focus on their core competencies and remain nimble. Walmart decided to partner with an IT powerhouse like Microsoft to tap into their existing Infrastructure as a Service (Azure) and other IT resources rather than invest in building them in-house. Instead, Walmart will now be able to focus on utilizing the data produced by their IoT and IaaS partnership with Microsoft to make them a leaner and more agile company.
  3. IoT does have commercial applicability and will, someday soon, become a reality for SMB focused MSPs. Some MSPs may think that they will never have a relationship with a massive corporation like Walmart. That is the wrong lesson to learn.

What is important to learn is that Walmart's IoT strategy means taking atypical objects and turning them into manageable and data producing resources for the company. The Microsoft relationship is the real lesson to be taken from Walmart. How many of your existing customers could implement an IoT strategy if they only had a capable outsourcing partner? More than you may realize.

IoT has not yet become a mainstream managed services product. But, I believe the day will come soon when IoT does achieve mainstream status. When IoT becomes mainstream, it will quickly become a mid-market and then an SMB reality.

Looking towards the future is how MSPs will thrive and remain relevant. Keep looking past today and focus on the products not yet created.

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