Can a Holistic Connectivity Management Platform Improve My Ability to Exceed SLA?
What does a Connectivity Management Platform (CMP) have to do with your Service Level Agreements (SLA)? It turns out – more than you think. With a more comprehensive CMP, mobile operators, IoT service providers and enterprises gain a greater amount of control over the service and support they offer to their end users. Let’s break down how it works.
Why is SLA so important for network operators deploying IoT projects?
Over the past few years, IoT analysts have been predicting the growing importance of SLA for IoT connectivity solutions. But, why?
One side of the conversation involves the sheer competitiveness of the growing IoT landscape. IoT data rates are a constant race to the bottom, and mobile operators offering connectivity solutions need to find a new way to stand out from the crowd.
This can’t be lower prices, or they are going to find themselves seriously undercutting their own margins. Instead, connectivity technologies have an opportunity to compete for the long-term on customer experience and service. Only this can ensure loyalty from customers, especially when it’s currently so easy for cellular connectivity customers to move from one mobile operator to another.
However, that’s not the only reason analysts are calling out SLA as a differentiator and a key consideration when partnering up with IoT connectivity platforms. The truth is, it’s getting harder and harder to guarantee a great level of service. Research and Markets commented back in 2017 that by 2022 “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.”
In plain English, this means that when you have an IoT connectivity platform that’s integrating with multiple players – your ability to provide 5 star service and support can’t help but be impacted, and usually negatively.
What are the challenges of SLA with “thin” IoT connectivity management platforms?
As a thin connectivity management platform usually doesn’t include core network, business support services, or SIM management, you’re likely to be dealing with at least three partners to launch, monitor and manage IoT deployments. This can cause issues such as responsibility disputes, where there is an issue somewhere in your IoT solution, and none of your partners are willing to take the wheel and find out the problem, let alone offer a solution.
Let’s look at an example, where one of your customers calls you with an issue. Disaster — their IoT devices are not responding. Connected devices are increasingly mission-critical to end users and enterprises – so solving the problem quickly is paramount.
In many cases, a problem can be fixed very quickly — as long as you know where the issue resides. You immediately pick up the phone to your core network vendor. (Note that already your customer is waiting on an extra layer of support.) The core network provider says, “Your customer has run out of billing support, or isn’t on the right rate plan.” Now you need to check with the BSS vendor, and so on and so forth.
This complexity of managing and juggling different vendors has a great influence on your ability to meet your own SLA. As the MNO, you’re suddenly playing secretary, running between different offices to get the answers you need to best support your customers. How can response time, customer satisfaction rate and time to resolution be best-in-class and rising? They just can’t.
The difference with a holistic connectivity management platform for cellular connectivity
Now imagine you’re using a holistic CMP – one single connectivity management system where everything is under the same roof, from core network and BSS to SIM management and device connectivity management. You now have one vendor to deal with, who can look with a single view at the whole customer environment and pinpoint exactly where the problem resides. You can guarantee your customers whatever SLA you would like, and know that no third-party is going to slow you down.
The most future focused providers will be able to offer you the most flexible business models for your IoT network. For example, you should be able to ask your vendor to provide everything as a managed service, taking the management off your hands and allowing you to reach out by email, Skype, WhatsApp – whatever you choose to get the answers you need. On the other hand, if you want even greater control, you should be able to request that the vendor can train and teach you on the platform so that you can work with your own enterprises directly.
You also want in-depth visibility, with access to a dedicated web portal so that you or your customers can log in, see all SIMs, the real-time status of devices, and enable or disable IoT deployments to exact business specifications. With this in place, you can solve issues on the fly, stay on top of all device activity, manage devices with granular detail, and provide stellar support to your customers, all with no third-party reliance or bottlenecks.