As new technologies disrupt and transform telecom operations, the only constant in the world of telecom is ‘change’. For those that do not ‘change’ according to the changing requirements, the subscribers punish them by leaving their services and moving on to their competitors.
Amongst the many transformations that are beckoning the telecom industry, IoT is definitely the biggest. IoT is a truly revolutionary tech with great potential and amazing forecasts. According to a survey, the number of IoT devices is anticipated to reach over 20 billion by the year 2020. Such a vast growth and the resultant expansion of the IoT network, is expected to generate trillions in revenue for telcos that are teetering due to excessive competition from all fronts and need a respite in any form. But, a move to IoT does have its challenges that need to be addressed by telecom operators both big and small.
IoT Checklist to Beat the Challenges of the Future
IoT is a vast field and requires many factors to work in your favor for ensuring business success. Below is a checklist that can be followed by internet of things companies for achieving business success:
Proficiency in different verticals
For a telecom vendor to be successful in delivering IoT services, it is essential to have expertise in different verticals. As internet of things companies are required to provide services that cut across service level agreements, connectivity, telecom services, virtual cloud technology, QoS, and also vertical enablers; there is an exigent need for versatility. At the same time, internet of things companies need to allocate the relevant hardware to track and bill a multitude of IoT-related transactions for optimal operation of an IoT platform However, it can be very difficult for a single operator to manage everything, which is why; IoT necessitates a partnership with a capable IoT service enabler.
Smooth and continuous customer experience
Customers of today are knowledgeable and want a secure, smooth and personalized experience while using digital offerings. The same is the case with IoT. A telecom operator can only expect to be successful in its IoT venture if it has the capability to roll out brand new services that meet the aforementioned criteria laid down for digital services. Also, the success of an IoT vendor depends on how fast it can bring the services to market. Beating the competition in service launch is an absolute necessity to assure consistently positive returns from an IoT venture.
An IoT development and services provider can put a telecom operator directly in touch with vendors with whom it has pre-existing partnerships. These partnerships are essential to meet the demands posed by IoT hardware and software requirements. An IoT venture requires access to connectivity equipment like: antennas, batteries, units with SIM cards, sensors, wireless monitoring cameras, payment terminals etc. Procuring all the equipment can leave an operator completely stretched, which is why; multiple vendor partnerships are needed. Accomplished IoT services providers can make partnerships simple and hassle-free for a new IoT operator.
The right connectivity
One IoT business use case can be very different from another. While one may require the highest internet connectivity speed and low latency, another may require low-speed connection to prevent quick battery discharge of sensors. Also, in some scenarios e.g. an underground parking lot use case, you may require internet connection that can traverse through thick walls. High speed will be completely redundant in this scenario as for a parking process even a low-speed connection can work well. Therefore, it is essential to partner with a service provider that can offer IoT connectivity that is relevant to your particular business model and requirements.
IoT transaction tracking and billing
With so many online interactions between so many different devices, tracking transactions and then billing the user accurately is extremely important. Also, modern-day customers do not want to pay any extra charge for the services they are using. Hence, the charging and billing platform that you are employing should be convergent and offer complete transparency in telecom billing. Also, the customers should be able to pick and choose from a wide range of service offerings and pay exactly for the data/services they have utilized.
An IoT environment, in which, a plethora of devices are connected together is susceptible to unethical breaches by hackers. It is possible for hackers to get their hands on account-specific information such as email address, postal address and sometimes even bank account information. The loss of such information can be critical for a business looking to keep up its reputation in the eyes of its subscribers. Therefore, one of the key points in the checklist is security that can be implemented by robust encryption. TLS/SSL for data transmission protection and AES encryption security for data itself along with a unique public IP address allows the IoT platform to function as intended. Also, it is imperative that internet of things companies focus on IoT security analytics and promote foolproof device authentication to ensure a sustained and trustworthy platform.
APIs for a variety of IoT use cases
IoT is a vast field and you never know when a new requirement may emerge. It would be illogical to overhaul the complete IoT platform and even customization may cost a lot. Therefore, it is a much better option to employ a telecom billing platform that comes with APIs built for a variety of business use cases. So, whether you need a shipping vendor to distribute your IoT SIMs or a payment gateway to receive payments, you are always just a few clicks away.
Tracking and reporting
Tracking billions of IoT transactions is no child’s play. At any time, you may require reports to confer to. Therefore, you need an IoT platform that can generate as many reports as you want with all the relevant fields.
Big Data analytics play an important role in unearthing insights that can be useful for the welfare of an IoT business. The myriad of data accumulate via billing engine may be hard to decode manually for even the best of managers, which is why; analytics built into the IoT platform should be an important criteria for selection for internet of things companies.
Cutting-edge functionalities to support the IoT use case
Unlike a normal home router, a tablet or a computer; IoT devices and sensors are sprawled across a large area. It is very hard for a consumer to patch and update these devices using conventional methods. Innovative methods like OTA (Over the Air) firmware upgrades are required to ensure these devices keep on getting updated automatically. Internet of things companies need to ensure that the platform they are using should have such provisions for accommodating IoT tech.
IoT requirements are many and some are still emerging. It would be quite a while till telcos and internet of things companies are completely sure about what they need for a successful IoT operation. However, considering what is relevant today, it is possible to envisage all that what is needed and enable a robust IoT platform. The above checklist has a list of all the pertinent requirements that need to be fulfilled by an IoT platform for it to be successful in the current state of things.