We are in the midst of a digital transformation and the Internet of things is leading the revolution, with anywhere between 25 Billion and 50 Billion connected devices expected by 2020.
The hype surrounding IoT is real and for many businesses, IoT represents an opportunity to grow their customer base and increase revenues. But there is an inherent problem that may prevent the number of connections and revenues from hitting anticipated targets. There is a fundamental disconnect between the transformational requirements of enterprises looking to implement IoT offerings and Service Providers (be it telco or others) who need to provide the network and platforms that enable IoT services to be delivered.
Consumer expectations for greater value are on the rise– can the enterprise deliver?
For enterprises, IoT represents an opportunity to establish longer lasting, more meaningful relationships with their customers by converting products into services. The need to convert business models to a product-as-a-service model is rising as the price of devices continues to decline and those devices become increasingly commoditized. Depending on the industry, it also helps to transform a large upfront capital expenditure into an ongoing operating expense, which allows for more accurate cost / value comparisons and reduced barrier to entry for the end customer.
Enterprises are excited about the opportunity to leverage IoT to improve its customer relationships and gain competitive advantages. But switching from a one-time selling model to a recurring subscription-based business model is not an easy task. Many businesses lack the resources (both human and financial) to make a large investment in transforming back office billing, revenue management and customer care in order to support these new IoT driven business models in a timely manner.
Is the service provider ready to step up or will they continue to lag behind?
Service Providers (whether it be traditional telco, MVNO or other IoT network provider) primarily have focused attention on network and device management capabilities, while missing an opportunity to support many of the enterprise requirements in relation to real time charging, recurring billing and customer care. In a recent Ovum article, the analyst firm highlights the necessity for telcos to expand their network connectivity, security and device management offerings. In order to meet the needs of the enterprise BSS, Ovum suggests bundling “Bill on Behalf”, split billing, customer care and an IoT specific product catalog capable of supporting selling any “thing” into their overall IoT offering.
By including the necessary catalog, billing and customer care capabilities with a Service Providers IoT platform strategy, enterprises can then be equipped with all of the tools to:
- Automatically onboard subscribers through integrated device management and subscription billing capabilities
- Differentiate in the market by quickly rolling out new value added services through highly scalable, cloud based systems
- Advance the customer experience through integrated customer care portals, which allow customers to obtain a completely transparent view of their devices, their usage, invoices and self-manage their plans
Ovum also reveals, “65% of telecommunications service providers have stated the need to develop new services as the biggest driver for their IoT project.” Unfortunately, the presence of a multitude of billing systems (60% of telco’s have 50 or more systems, according to Ovum) lack the convergent capability to charge, bill and settle with partners for multiple service types on a single invoice. In order for operators to think about Billing-as-a-Service, they likely will need to upgrade their billing systems.
Once service providers are ready to bundle billing into their IoT platforms, with the ability to offer both white-label billing and bill-on-behalf solutions to their enterprise customers, we will begin to see IoT truly enter the mainstream and boost the bottom line for all companies involved in the process.