Tech Data may walk softly in terms of public perception \u2013 the Florida-based company isn\u2019t exactly a household name \u2013 but it carries a big stick in the IT industry. It\u2019s one of the biggest distributors and resellers out there, partnering with the majority of the biggest names in technology and boasting net sales of more than $26 billion in its last full financial year.\nYet even major players like Tech Data have to bend to the new realities of the technology industry. We caught up with Michelle Curtis, director of IoT solutions at Tech Data, at a Microsoft IoT event in Boston on Monday.\n+ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: After virtualization and cloud, what\u2019s left on premises? + Internet of things definitions: A handy guide to essential IoT terms\nCurtis said that Tech Data\u2019s been building out its IoT capabilities for the past two and a half years, and noted that moving into the operational technology space has been a major change for the company.\n\u201cWe really had to shift in the way that we approach the market, from a traditional distribution sense where we\u2019re taking vendor product or selling it to a reseller and they\u2019re selling it to an end-user, to really more of aligning with our partners and helping them service their customers,\u201d she said.\nIt\u2019s a more holistic approach for Tech Data, and it\u2019s necessitated a massive broadening of the company\u2019s vendor pool in order to address the much more diverse needs of the IoT marketplace. Of particular importance was getting industrial systems integration companies on board, according to Curtis.\n\u201cWe understand that we need a great deal of partners to deliver a full solution, and we\u2019ve been building out that ecosystem in the past two years,\u201d she said.\nTo that end, Tech Data acquired the business solutions group of Avnet, Inc, another technology reseller and major player in the distribution space, in February. The idea is to position the newly enlarged company as an end-to-end solutions provider.\nManufacturing, food and beverage processing and other types of industrial IoT were Tech Data\u2019s first main vertical area of focus \u2013 instrumenting existing SCADA networks, and so on \u2013 but Curtis said that transportation, logistics, retail and hospitality are all fertile ground for the company\u2019s efforts.\n\u201cWe have opportunities now where we\u2019ll go into two floors within a building, for example, and they\u2019re converting that into a hotel,\u201d she said. \u201cSo it\u2019s about not only energy management at the physical tenant level, but also personalization that you get, and the loyalty and customer experience.\u201d\nTech Data\u2019s seeing rapid growth in the retail sector in particular, Curtis said, in part because it\u2019s often less complicated to deploy the kinds of technologies that retail clients are interested in \u2013 information kiosks and location-based marketing and signage don\u2019t generally require as much technical know-how as complex industrial IoT implementations.\nOne of the biggest challenges of changing gears in this way, said Curtis, is the shift in mindset \u2013 it\u2019s a different sales cycle (shorter than traditional IT sales), and shifting personnel to cover the company\u2019s new focus.\n\u201cWe\u2019ve really made investments in hiring teams that have \u2026 vertical expertise and understanding what customer challenges are there,\u201d she said.\nRight now, Tech Data\u2019s hoping to target healthcare IoT \u2013 a task that the aforementioned acquisition of Avnet should help with, as that company has had success in that market, according to Curtis.