Welcome!

@ThingsExpo Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Java IoT, Mobile IoT, Linux Containers, @CloudExpo, @DXWorldExpo

@ThingsExpo: Blog Post

The 'Internet of Things' Becomes Mainstream | @ThingsExpo [#IoT]

No mention of IoT targeted at the masses would be complete without the clichéd example of the communicating fridge

Internet of Things Becomes Mainstream, What Happens Now? | Part 2

How do you know when a technology has become mainstream? A good clue may be when politicians start talking about it on the campaign trail and with mainstream media. David Cameron, the UK prime minister, was the latest, indicating that the world was now on "fast-forward" with the Internet of Things (IoT) ushering in the new industrial revolution. No mention of IoT targeted at the masses would be complete without the clichéd example of the communicating fridge. While it is easy to get caught up in the hype and over-simplify, the complexity associated with making IoT mainstream will be unlike anything we have seen before it.

In the last Internet of things (IoT) blog, I suggested that in the emerging IoT world, humans will set policies and rules that define desired outcomes, while the execution of minute-by-minute decisions driven by those policies will increasingly be handled by automated agents. In turn those agents, as they evolve in sophistication and functionality, will drive new business models, new ways of generating revenue, and new strategies for pricing and charging.

Today, enterprises are discovering that one-trick billing is not suitable for a complex services world. We all know that a billing system needs to flexibly support, for example, recurring and non-recurring charges, volume discounts, short and long-term commitments, settlements, and (for enterprise billing) bill tracking and assignment across multiple departments and product lines.

Yet here we are today in a world increasingly being made more complicated by a proliferation of online services, by IoT and by a maze of evolving business relationships, and what do we find? Service providers are still being sold one-trick billing systems.

Perhaps there is some deep-rooted psychological need for some people to deny complexity. Over-simplifying, like politicians with their fridges, may be part of the popular culture, but in business, as in engineering, science and medicine, it is important to face up to complexity, understand what is really going on, and build our plans accordingly.

When Internet services emerged, some people predicted that everything was going to be paid for by advertising: a really simple business model. Then the online shopping cart came along and, without diminishing the importance of advertising much, vendors were able to trade online and offer services and products for money in a subscription form: another simple business model supported by one-trick billing systems. While subscription services have always been with us, the Internet enabled providers to offer many new services using the subscription model: software, music, movies, news.

And now we have IoT, and - even better - IoT with smart agents. We will see, naturally enough, that Internet merchant platform players insist that IoT devices and systems can be sold in shopping carts. Subscription billing system vendors will tell us IoT services are perfect for vanilla subscription billing. While others will come along with billing systems that are IoT-specific and assume some kind of a business model that is absolutely the best for IoT.

Yet in this increasingly complex environment, one-trick billing starts to look like a shaky idea. If you only have a merchant platform you can't handle subscriptions. If your billing system only supports subscriptions, forget selling service-related products through your own portal. If your billing system is designed just for IoT-style services, you could find yourself shut out from expanding into other lines of business. You will either have to constrain your business model, buy or license additional systems, or go to third parties for help.

For a new-start company, a one-trick billing system could appear to be a great way of getting into business, especially if it's available as a service with no long-term commitments. But as a company matures and expands its portfolio of services and products, it also expands its perspective on the marketplace. They experiment with more varied and more nuanced business models. They want to try interesting new approaches to pricing and billing to attract and retain customers. At this point, businesses find that they've outgrown their start-up one-trick billing systems. They find, as so many companies have discovered before them, that they cannot form their pricing and billing strategies around the needs and preferences of the market. Instead they must constrain their strategies to conform to the limitations and ways of working defined in their billing system. If you want to evolve your pricing and billing approach, you will have to buy a new system, either to replace or supplement the old system.

An earlier generation has seen this before; it's not a distinctive feature of the Internet. One traditional phone company, a giant, started with one billing system, as everyone does. They grew and refined their approach to the market and added new services. Their original billing system was a one-trick system, so they bought or built some new systems: systems specific to a particular product set; systems specific to a particular pricing strategy; systems to link all the other systems together... After a surprisingly short time, they found they had over a hundred distinct systems in their billing environment, strung together after a fashion, but with fragmented and highly duplicated data. Expensive and dysfunctional. Getting out of that kind of trap is not easy. The company sought help from another corporate giant and bought one more billing system, the system to end all other systems. Five years later they still had over one hundred plus one systems.

If they'd had a billing system able to support the agile needs of the business, they could have spent more time developing and selling services and less time band-aiding their systems environment. I have pointed out in several previous blogs that MetraNet users have a distinct advantage: the system can handle any business model, or any combination of business models, including business models that haven't been invented yet. By contrast, when you buy a one-trick billing system, you are also buying into the one-trick business model supported by that system.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud, BUSS. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda was CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. At MetraTech, Esmeralda was responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution for enterprise and SaaS products, 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 resource and service control software, now part of Extreme Networks.

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.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Moroccanoil®, the global leader in oil-infused beauty, is thrilled to announce the NEW Moroccanoil Color Depositing Masks, a collection of dual-benefit hair masks that deposit pure pigments while providing the treatment benefits of a deep conditioning mask. The collection consists of seven curated shades for commitment-free, beautifully-colored hair that looks and feels healthy.
The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
The textured-hair category is inarguably the hottest in the haircare space today. This has been driven by the proliferation of founder brands started by curly and coily consumers and savvy consumers who increasingly want products specifically for their texture type. This trend is underscored by the latest insights from NaturallyCurly's 2018 TextureTrends report, released today. According to the 2018 TextureTrends Report, more than 80 percent of women with curly and coily hair say they purcha...
We all love the many benefits of natural plant oils, used as a deap treatment before shampooing, at home or at the beach, but is there an all-in-one solution for everyday intensive nutrition and modern styling?I am passionate about the benefits of natural extracts with tried-and-tested results, which I have used to develop my own brand (lemon for its acid ph, wheat germ for its fortifying action…). I wanted a product which combined caring and styling effects, and which could be used after shampo...
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.