Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Andy Thurai

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
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
Cell networks have the advantage of long-range communications, reaching an estimated 90% of the world. But cell networks such as 2G, 3G and LTE consume lots of power and were designed for connecting people. They are not optimized for low- or battery-powered devices or for IoT applications with infrequently transmitted data. Cell IoT modules that support narrow-band IoT and 4G cell networks will enable cell connectivity, device management, and app enablement for low-power wide-area network IoT. B...
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
The challenges of aggregating data from consumer-oriented devices, such as wearable technologies and smart thermostats, are fairly well-understood. However, there are a new set of challenges for IoT devices that generate megabytes or gigabytes of data per second. Certainly, the infrastructure will have to change, as those volumes of data will likely overwhelm the available bandwidth for aggregating the data into a central repository. Ochandarena discusses a whole new way to think about your next...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...