In the last 4 years Zest4 has developed from offering O2 mobiles to a dealer base, to offering mobile services at a wholesale level to a Channel of resellers across multiple networks, selling a suite of fixed line services and offering a portfolio of digital solutions. 16 months ago they moved into the M2M space and shortly afterwards hired market specialist Anton Le Saux, previously head of the O2 M2M Channel, to develop their IoT strategy. In this interview Anton talks about joining Zest4 and how he is approaching the Channel when it comes to selling IoT.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): You have been in the chair for six months or so now. What attracted you to Zest4?
Anton Le Saux (ALS): When Zest4 launched their IoT proposition I was still with O2, I had such a good sight of their plans and ambitions and could see that this was a serious play. As such, when the opportunity came up to be part of that success I was very keen to take it. They had done a lot of ground work, they were happy to invest in all the right places and had ambitions to be seen as the go to supplier for M2M in channel. They already had a relationship in place with a managed platform provider and had started to build some commercial propositions so I knew I could hit the ground running and I would get the support I would need in order to take the Zest4 M2M proposition to the next level.
CBM: What kind of approach do you think works best with partners that are new to IoT?
ALS: It’s all about making it simple and giving partners something that they can relate to. The level of knowledge in the Channel is vast, some partners understand IoT and where it’s going and others haven’t really looked at it too much. In order to help them out at Zest4 we have selected a few key end to end solutions that will fit in with most partners existing portfolio. These are solutions that make sense, add value and will open the door to much bigger conversations and opportunities. We are hand holding where required and giving support where needed. This seems to be working well and partners really appreciate the support and direction.
CBM: Is IoT the ultimate Trojan horse?
ALS: Trojan horse is a term I use quite a bit when speaking to partners. A simple, no frills, and easy to understand solution can help a customer think about what else can be done in their business using IoT. I have seen on many occasions a partner sell in a simple solution to then go on to discuss more complex opportunities and win business in other areas.
CBM: Do some partners still have a fear of getting into IoT because it’s an unknown?
ALS: It’s not so much of the unknown, it’s more about how can they make money out of IoT, it is usually lowered revenue over a longer term. Most are worried about how much they may have to invest up front before they can start to see a return. They key thing I try to get across is the fact that, other than a small amount of time and resource, IoT doesn’t need a lot of investment upfront. But, to uncover the opportunities you have to ask the right questions and these are probably different to the ones they would normally ask.
IoT is different to fixed line or a mobile service. It is apparent to all what the benefit of having these services in your business is. As an example, what is the true value of a vehicle telematics solution? Most people will look at the cost of putting this in and the monthly running cost but don’t appreciate the true ROI. If it’s the right solution you should be able to change driver behavior and this alone could give immediate fuel savings that will cover the cost of the solution. You can monitor vehicle diagnostics and manage preventative maintenance which can add real value and save a business money. Potentially there are savings on insurance premiums, there are non-monetary advantages such as a duty of care for drivers, plus much more. If a partner can demonstrate the full value of a solution to a customer it becomes a very easy decision
CBM: Is there risk involved in getting into this market?
ALS: I think the bigger risk is not getting involved. Connected devices are becoming a part of everyday life for both consumers and businesses alike. If partners are not talking to their customers about this at some point someone else will, and if the new IoT supplier can provide other services they could be letting the fox into the hen house.