The Internet of Everything promises an almost limitless, enriched and rewarding future for service providers and customers alike, but making the transition from communications service provider to digital service provider requires careful business planning involving both a partner and platform ecosystem strategy.
In my recent report for TM Forum,The roadmap of options: Monetizing and managing IoE services, I explore the opportunities and hurdles in more detail.
Through our survey for this report and associated conversations with service providers, a number of key strategies for success emerged. Following are some steps to take to make it happen:
- Identify the value proposition
Identifying and selling the real business value is crucial in monetizing IoE services, especially when looking to scale up the business by reselling applications to multiple enterprise customers.
Sometimes the value of a particular service isn’t immediately obvious to others, especially when trying to resell a complex service.
Using a consulting-like approach and proof-of- concept trials can help. Service providers need to consider what services and platform capabilities can be reused and ask themselves: Where is the value?
- Keep it simple
Digital services can be very complex, and too much complexity can kill the business before it takes off. Service providers need to start with a simplified service and delivery model and then build up the capabilities over time after proving the initial business concept works. To achieve scalability may require cloud storage and computing, virtualized networks, automated provisioning and easily deployable devices.
- Define a monetization strategy
Monetizing IoE services is more than just providing connectivity. A robust portfolio of services includes platform as a service, network as a service, device management and business analytics.
Service providers need to consider what type of charging model they want to use such as pay per use or revenue sharing. Since most network operators already have well-established billing, charging and settlement capabilities, this can also be offered as a service to partners.
- Use open APIs
Platform businesses like Alibaba, Amazon Marketplace, Google and Airbnb have been highly successful at creating multi-billion dollar businesses without owning anything but the platform infrastructure itself – and in some cases, not even that. By enabling an ecosystem of producers and consumers through a frictionless platform they make it possible for these highly agile businesses to evolve rapidly.
Implementing open APIs is essential for exposing platform capabilities to other partners such as developers and third-party IoE providers enabling them to have access to the platform.
This can be another way to monetize the digital platform ecosystem.
- Build a trusted partner ecosystem
Building a partner ecosystem can be challenging but is essential for creating and delivering effective IoE services. Partners may be application developers or service providers, digital suppliers, IT and systems integrators or other network operators, among others.
Trusted partners often have a strong brand identity which can help build consumer confidence in new IoE services, which means communications service providers are well positioned to become a trusted partner. Partner onboarding must be automated, and governance processes considered.
- Address security first
Security remains the number-one technical challenge for digital service providers. Service providers need to build a security framework that includes internal and external security functions and policies that can be applied right from the start.
Orchestration will be key here, particularly for remote device configuration and upgrades. Service providers also need to consider how they will implement end-to-end security lifecycle management and how data analytics can be used to identify unusual patterns of behavior in both people and machines.
- Ensure customer experience
Customer experience will become the most important differentiator for IoE services. Service providers need to plan objectives and build the experience into their IoE service delivery model. This includes developing omnichannel capabilities along with considering the touchpoint journey and how to track and retain customers’ interaction history in a contextual way to ensure the journey is optimal and effective.
- Implement end-to-end orchestration
Orchestration happens everywhere across an IoE ecosystem – in the technology layer where physical and virtual elements transport the bits, and also at the resource, service and customer layers. IoE services can be complex and will need to scale massively, which means that service fulfillment functions will need to be orchestrated across one or more partner platforms and may require federation across more than one orchestrator.
- Plan for emerging technologies
Some IoE services depend on highly scalable, on- demand network and computing infrastructure that is agile and cost efficient, while others need fast, reliable, always-on connectivity. Operators must incorporate emerging technologies like virtualization, 5G, low-power networks, Wi-Fi and analytics to support wide-ranging IoE applications. Some technologies may not be suitable for certain services, and choosing the most appropriate and cost-effective technology for each type is essential.
Download the report, The roadmap of options: Monetizing and managing IoE services.