Operationalizing the Internet of Things (IoT) includes many aspects of the IoT Stack with many functions supported by one or more IoT Platforms. Some of the key IoT OSS functions are Device Management, Provisioning and Administration, Data Management, SLA Management, and IoT Billing, Clearing and Settlement.
Many of the following IoT Operations areas are supported by IoT Platforms:
IoT Device Management
IoT devices require provisioning, administration, monitoring, and diagnostics important for trouble replication and corrective measures. Important IoT Device Management functions include Enrollment/Provisioning, Configuration/Association, Software Updates, and overall Management and Control. As IoT systems and networks grow in complexity and importance, there will be an increasingly urgent need within enterprise for IoT device management platforms and software.
IoT Interoperability Management
Interoperability means that heterogeneous devices, and protocols, require interworking with each other. This is challenging because of the large number of platforms, gateways, and devices used in IoT systems. Interoperability should be managed by both the application developers and the device manufacturers to offer the services regardless of the platform or hardware standard used by the client. However, interoperability is often an issue between different vendor offerings.
Communication, signaling, and data exchange challenges between systems can be handled with IoT Application Programming Interfaces (API). IoT APIs are a critical component of systems as they enable interoperability between otherwise disparate interfaces. Mind Commerce anticipates IoT APIs becoming table stakes for companies and industry vertical as a whole to enable IoT interoperability between platforms, devices, and gateways. This will become an especially acute need on an inter-company and inter-industry basis.
IoT Provisioning and Administration
Consumers and industry need to prepare for a world in which IoT is driving automation at unprecedented rates. With this automation comes little need for human intervention in as many IoT applications and services will be completely autonomous.
This is not to say that things will just happen magically although AI and other means of programming such as deep learning techniques will cause things to happen without human intervention. Instead, there will be a need for human intervention at the onset of applications wherein there is a need for provisioning and administration of preferences options and control in advance of the operations actually occurring.
IoT Data Management
At its core, IoT is about data, so IoT Data Management will be center stage of value realization. There will be an enormous amount of data generated from IoT, most of which will be the unstructured variety, requiring Big Data technologies and advanced analytics for processing. The ability to sort data in a raw format, store it in different structural formats, and subsequently release it for further analytics, will be of paramount importance for all industry verticals.
There is an emerging market opportunity for Data as a Service (DaaS) providers in the IoT ecosystem. IoT Data as a Service (IoTDaaS) offers convenient and cost effective solutions to enterprises of various sizes and domain. IoTDaaS constitutes retrieving, storing and analyzing information and provide customer either of the three or integrated service package depending on the budget and the requirement.
Service Level Agreement Management
Service Level Agreements (SLA) are another important IoT Operations area. SLA are used to ensure that a service provider meets the expectations of a customer. They are frequently part of contracts between managed communication services providers and network operators.
SLA’s for IoT will include client expectations relative to network, device, and data. Two of the most important measurement areas will be Availability and Performance. SLAs will become increasingly important in the IoT ecosystem, especially as the need for inter-system orchestration and mediation reaches its third stage, which will encompass a high degree of inter-company and inter-industry data exchange. IoT SLAs will have a profound impact many industry verticals in terms of productivity gains and other important metrics.
SLA monitoring will be an important task for independent third-party providers as part of the clearing and settlement process. There is a need for an IoT Managed Services function to monitor and report upon actual deliverables and related quality to IoT customers.
Billing, Clearing, and Settlement
Billing Support Systems (BSS) are critical for all telecom operations. IoT is no different as there is an emerging need for new tools in support of IoT BSS that provide support for Billing, Clearing and Settlement.
Services in this area are on a Business to Business (B2B) basis as IoT Billing occurs between IoT service providers and/or enterprise organizations that are exchanging data and/or using each other resources. IoT Clearing and Settlement is a B2B process that involved IoT Accounting as well as reporting and payments between business partners.
More specifically this area includes capture of billing data, bill remittance and collection, and various settlement operations between IoT ecosystem entities.
Billing is relatively simple when it involves proprietary systems and billing presentment is typically a one-to-one operation. However, the IoT universe is anticipated to evolve in such a way that there will be need for a many-to-many relation and the following:
- IoT Billing Interoperability: Providing interoperability between different billing systems, formats, APIs, etc.
- IoT Billing Presentment: It is anticipated that IoT billing will occur across multiple parties, for many different services, which may include billing specifically for data, analytics, and/or the use of both as part of some products or services.
- IoT Billing Clearing and Settlement: Providing the Accounting function (as part of IoT AAA – Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting) and a means of informing multiple parties in the ecosystem who owes whom what, why, and how remittances shall be made.