Arrow Colorado Open Lab: How to bridge the OT/IT knowledge gap for end-to-end IoT solutions

IBM among the sponsors of the Arrow Electronics Open Lab

By | 2 minute read | February 25, 2020

Arrow Open Lab

Organizations benefit when teams from operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) collaborate. Their ecosystems benefit, too. But all too often, IT and OT operate independently in siloes that prevent the development of seamless end to end implementations and user experiences. At Arrow Electronics, we recognized this barrier to success. So we developed an approach to foster better relationships and understanding between our hardware and software providers. The Open Lab is an innovative approach that you may want to adopt for your own organization.

Arrow Electronics is a leader in technology and a pioneer in collaboration

Arrow Electronics is a global tech distributor that sells about 30,000 different kinds of IoT sensors through our e-commerce website. The manufacturers of these devices, the companies who buy them and the end users understand – each from their own perspective – the potential for applying these devices and the resulting data. As a result, the sensors appear in more and more scenarios. However, as the market grows, so does the opportunity for disconnects. We observed the knowledge and relationship gaps between the OT and IT communities that supply Arrow. So we took the initiative to bring these groups together to develop a collaborative process.

Our ultimate goal was to help customers in the Arrow value chain explore synergies in their network and develop powerful end to end solutions. IoT use cases which utilize hardware and software components to solve business challenges have been emerging steadily for at least a decade.

No one can do this on their own anymore, we realized. Hardware companies are collecting data we couldn’t have dreamed of collecting even five or ten years ago. Let’s bring people together because it’s rarely one solution that does the entire job.

With sponsorship from companies such as IBM, our team created the Open Lab. The Open Lab is a meeting place, a makerspace and engineering lab designed for collaboration and exploration.

The Open Lab stimulates discussion, promotes interdependence and produces results

Arrow and IBM launched the first in a series of Open Lab events focused on end to end IoT engagements. The lab itself echoes the great outdoors of its Denver setting. Its guests work against a backdrop of Aspen trees which are known for their interdependent root systems. Echoing this theme of interdependency and ecosystem, about 40 of our partners were invited to present offerings, demonstrate solutions and work through exercises that sparked discussion, fostered understanding and put opportunities and potential roadblocks on the table for discussion.

Michele Stern, IBM Managing Director and Arrow relationship manager, helped to kick off the event with her insight into the market and the sizable potential for partners. Stern told the participants, “IBM solutions cover 23% of the addressable IoT market. You have the potential to deliver on the remaining 77% of the $1 trillion market opportunity in IoT.”

As a result of these Open Lab sessions, Arrow’s OT and IT providers enjoy closer relationships, greater collaboration and a far more effective outcome. Our organization, ecosystem, and customers reap the benefits of the learning and activities in which they participated.

 Honestly, I just want more of it. Bringing together all pieces of the ecosystem is critical to growing the market for all of us.

– Scott Yates, EDI