Click here to close now.


@ThingsExpo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Esmeralda Swartz, Carmen Gonzalez, Peter Silva, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@ThingsExpo: Blog Post

Internet of Things Is Not Another Subscription Service | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]

There is a view that with IoT becoming a reality, it’s rather simple

The Internet of Things Is Not Just Another Subscription Service | Part 1

Companies that until recently had never heard of the Internet of things (IoT) are now excited to find that they've been IoT players all along. Businesses involved in home automation, security services, vehicle tracking and health monitoring to name a few have been around for a while. They all provide services that involve devices (now known as "things") that communicate with each other, with their owners, and sometimes with control centers. Increasingly that channel of communication is via the Internet. Therefore, they all see themselves as IoT service providers now, and rightly so. But they are also specialists in the actual services they provide, and the fact that we have an increasingly popular expression to describe the infrastructure they use does not diminish the need for that expertise. While IoT brings additional challenges and opportunities, it doesn't remove the need to retain business methods and strategies that remain appropriate for the specialist area, even in a rapidly changing world.

At the same time, companies that have built and sold business support systems for years - billing, order management and CRM - are kind of excited to find that they are also in the IoT business. Their systems can work even in this new world of IoT, and they are proud to publish the fact, inviting the world to participate in seminars, webinars, etc., highlighting this marvel. These billing vendors are being rather vocal and shouting loudly from the rooftops that the Internet of Things economy is happily meeting the world of subscriptions, so jump on board the bandwagon. We shouldn't be surprised. After all, a billing system that is optimized generically for subscription services can bill for recurring revenue services such as subscriptions in an IoT environment too, provided, of course, that the service provider accepts the premise that IoT is just another subscription service.

An Overly Simplistic View of the Internet of Things
There is a view that with IoT becoming a reality, it's rather simple. Politicians and commentators are fond of telling us that IoT means a new exciting future in which the fridge decides when to order more food. That example has stood the test of time: it has been with us since the closing years of the 20th century. In the movie The 6th Day, released in 2000, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a smart Internet-connected fridge (which might be the most memorable thing about that movie). Internet-connected fridges were sold in 2002, but without much success, and just last week a British politician regurgitated the cliché. Maybe he'd just seen the movie.

Many descriptions of mainstream IoT services tend to emphasize sensors and monitoring, with a degree of autonomous actions (alarms for example) to help people out, but mostly these services feed information into data centers for storage and analysis. This is where concepts such as home automation, energy management, health monitoring, security monitoring and vehicle tracking all started. But already we can see the emergence of smarter and more sophisticated systems, such as those with the ability to identify a need for medication, and trigger an Internet-connected implant to deliver a dose. Systems don't just notice an intruder and raise an alarm, they also can lock paths of exit and attempt facial recognition of intruders. IoT services can track vehicle movements, assess anomalous behavior and call for help when needed. All of this happens in near-real time. It isn't directly controlled by humans, although humans set the rules of behavior. It is not driven directly by data analysis, but data analysis contributes to creating the semi-persistent rules for appropriate actions.

What I am describing here are "agents": the devices and systems that make rules-driven decisions and enact transactions on behalf of the device's owner. Agent systems have been with us for a long time, even pre-Internet. The least-cost routing algorithms that telecom carriers and some large enterprises use for determining the routing of voice telephony calls are agents. The automated trading systems now commonly used to supplement humans in the stock market are also agents. The automatic assignment and configuration of network capacity and network functionality in emerging programs such as software-defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) will, in effect, be conducted by agents working on behalf of carriers and infrastructure owners. Agents are becoming an essential part of the IoT nervous system, and any business that is aiming to make money from IoT needs to understand that.

Individuals and businesses will employ agents that interact with cloud orchestration systems to continually optimize the portfolio of services consumed by their human owners, based on owner-defined criteria of cost, functionality and performance. Some agents will be smart enough to subcontract some of the load to other, more specialized agents. The agents will be fed data by sensors and monitors, will receive analysis from aggregation centers to inform decisions, and will give instructions for action to other devices.

With agents in the system, we can see that the simple view of sensors monitoring and actuators performing chores, with a data center acting as broker, is just too simple. Agents will enable and manage complex processes, decision trees and relationships. Agents will bring to the wider world many of the management and control concepts that have been tried and tested within the walled gardens of factories, hospitals, power plants and data centers. Agents could even provide citizens with cross-checked and validated data about the world that will help them understand whether politicians are repeating authenticated facts or are just making them up.

Burgeoning sophistication can bring lots of benefits, provided we don't lose sight of what is really going on. But humans do like to over-simplify, even as the world naturally evolves into something more complicated.

Why One-Trick Billing Systems Don't Cut It with IoT
That brings us back to billing systems that need to monetize the IoT. There are lots of billing systems out there, and many of them are rather simple. These simple systems support only a narrow range of products or services, or they support only one type of pricing or charging model. These are one-trick billing systems, and they are good for one-trick service providers that don't plan to be anything else. Agents will certainly drive the generation of new and more nuanced business models as the concept of a service itself becomes more amorphous. IoT will inevitably bring a need for more, not less, sophistication and complexity, and we need systems, including billing systems, that can handle the complexity challenge.

I will share more thoughts on one-trick billing systems in my next blog, but in the meantime, read what more about the Internet of Things.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, product marketing, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of OSS software, now part of Extreme Networks (Nasdaq:EXTR). At Avici Systems (Nasdaq:AVCI), Esmeralda was Vice President of Marketing for the networking pioneer from startup through its successful IPO. Early in her career, she was a Director at IDC, where she led the network consulting practice and worked with startup and leading software and hardware companies, and Wall Street clients on product and market strategies. Esmeralda holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Marketing and International Business from Northeastern University.

You can view her other blogs at

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.