Tuesday, December 18, 2018

IDG Contributor Network: Enterprise systems to monetize and bill for new IoT services

Enterprises adopt IoT solutions for two primary reasons. First, they want to lower their companies’ operating and capital costs. These types of IoT solutions including factory automation, remote asset monitoring, fleet management, and smart metering help enterprises improve their bottom lines by focusing on all sorts of cost reduction.

Second, enterprises want to add IoT to the products they sell to their customers. This allows enterprises to bundle new connectivity-based services with their core products, thereby increasing revenue and differentiating their offerings. Examples of these types of IoT solutions include in-vehicle infotainment, connected welding equipment, connected commercial-grade power tools, and many more.

But in order for enterprises to make money from new connectivity-based services, they need a way to capture data from and bill their customers for these new services. It doesn’t sound difficult; however, the devil is in the IoT details.

For example, an enterprise might have the systems to bill a customer for a new connectivity-based service if the price of the service is a simple, recurring monthly charge. But what if the price of the service is more complex. For example, how would an enterprise charge its customers for a service based on

  • the types and number of times a new connectivity-based application is used
  • whether the product is kept inside or taken out of a geofenced area
  • whether the product’s performance over the last quarter met a contracted SLA for power consumption

Enterprises’ legacy monetization solutions are generally incapable of handling such complex scenarios.

Let’s take a look at enterprises’ requirements for fully featured IoT monetization solutions.

5 enterprise requirements for IoT monetization solutions

Let’s start with a definition of IoT monetization.

IoT monetization is a solution that ingests, associates monetary value to, assigns ownership to, and calculates or processes various financial-related transactions on IoT data and metadata. IoT monetization allows businesses to understand how, how much, and how often an IoT device, platform, application, or solution is used. Companies like BillingPlatform, CSG, Ericsson, SAP and others provide IoT monetization solutions to enterprises and communication service providers.

There are five overarching enterprise requirement of a best-in-class IoT monetization solution.

1. Customer management

A leading IoT monetization solution provides insights into customer utilization and behavior to drive how the customer is treated; how new services are offered to the customer; and how the solution provider engages throughout the customer relationship lifecycle. An IoT monetization solution needs to offer customer and account flexibility, supply chain and partnership management, and self-service capabilities.

2. Services management

A leading IoT monetization solution must provide a platform for rapidly defining and launching new IoT services and generating new revenue streams. The service management capabilities of an IoT monetization solution enable enterprises to easily define and launch new services, support service metadata, provide IoT services flexibility, and manage bundled products and services.

3. Billing support

A leading IoT monetization solution must support a variety of usage- and non-usage-based charging algorithms at the device, connection, application, service, account, and customer levels. In addition, monetization solutions must support charging, billing, and settlement for all partners associated with all IoT services offered by the enterprise.

4. Architecture

The architecture of an IoT monetization solution ensures the solution functions effectively for initial deployment and continues to support customers over the service lifetime. An IoT monetization solution needs to support a flexible deployment model whether on-premises, private cloud, or multi-tenant public cloud; a flexible operational model to provide monetization capabilities as a managed service; unique professional services to handle all types of implementations; and platform integrations with IoT application enablement, device management, and connectivity management platforms.

5. Ecosystem support

A leading IoT monetization vendor should provide clear and concise documentation for both developers and solution operators. A developer portal or unified interface and structure should be provided to organize these resources. Monetization vendors should make their developer documentation publicly available, as this provides enterprises the ability to determine the fit of a monetization solution to their business and technology needs.

As enterprises seek to grow their customers and revenue with connectivity-enabled services, they will require best-in-class IoT monetization solutions. There are several monetization vendors that specialize in offering enterprise-grade IoT monetization solutions. Those that do have ensured their solutions offer best-in-class customer management, services management, billing support, architecture, and ecosystem support.

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Thanks to Steven Hilton (see source)

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