Connectivity Management Platforms: How Much Time Will I Need to Get Up and Running?
When it comes to IoT deployments, Connectivity Management Platforms (CMP) are an essential element of your solution. Without a Connectivity Management Platform, network operators can’t configure, manage, operate and support their customers’ connected devices. This includes anything from broad device connectivity needs across the IoT network, all the way to drilling down and analyzing a specific rate plan.
Traditional Connectivity Management Platforms are built on-premises, and often involve integrations with other parts of the MNO’s ecosystem, such as a Business Support System (BSS), a SIM management console, or a mobile operator’s core network. Here’s how it usually works when onboarding an IoT connectivity management platform, step by step.
1. Design what connectivity technologies you will need
With a traditional CMP, you’re starting from a blank page. You’ll need to decide on everything you’ll want included in your IoT connectivity platform, including what integrations are essential, how you’re going to manage IoT data, how many IoT devices you’ll be supporting, and what kind of management system makes sense for your business. For example, a Utilities use case with smart meters all over the country is not the same as an Agriculture use case where all sensors or device connectivity might be coming from a single location.
2. Draw up a Statement of Work
This step is important, as it helps you to ensure that the work will be completed according to your expectations. Here, you’ll think about what the responsibilities of your different vendors are, both short and long-term. Who is going to take ownership over the IoT project, who will be your primary contact, and who will take over if they are unavailable? How long does the vendor think the connectivity service will take to get up and running, and what will they be responsible for to get you there? This contract should be as tight as possible, but it’s important to realize that with a “thin” CMP, your vendor will be reliant on other third-parties for integration, and so they can’t make you many guarantees about time to market.
3. Make changes as necessary to drill down on connectivity technologies and scope
There will usually be a back and forth process while all the i’s get dotted and t’s get crossed. Here, you’ll change the documentation to meet your specific needs, think about the connectivity solutions you’re going to be offering, and ensure that you can meet those needs with the offering on the table. For example, can the proposed BSS cater to complex billing and rating such as pooled plans, discounts, credits and hierarchical billing to multiple layers of customers? In a smart devices use case for example, it would be very common for the MNO to sell connectivity to the OEM, who then sells to their own customers. This would require multiple layers of billing services from the same platform.
4. Procure the necessary hardware for your IoT network
As the solution is being deployed on-premises, you now need to turn your mind to hardware. Practically installing the system can be time consuming in and of itself – even if everything goes to plan. With hardware shortages still wreaking havoc around the world, and the semiconductor chip shortage in particular playing a large role – it’s not unusual for network operators to wait many months for the right hardware and technology to arrive on-site. The time it will take to order COTS (Computer Off the Shelf), servers, storage, and other IT equipment such as routers, switches and firewalls should not be underestimated.
5. Get additional vendors on board to support integration needs
Of course, at the same time, you’re working with multiple third-parties. To get the core network, BSS, and SIM management integrations working seamlessly – you’ll need to liaise with multiple stakeholders, entering into contracts, agreements, statements of work, and SLAs, just as you do with the CMP vendor.
If you’re lucky, you’re ready to launch your IoT projects in 6-9 months
This estimate is conservative with a traditional “thin” CMP which relies on integrations and deploys on-premises, and is one of the reasons why we created what we call a “holistic” connectivity management solution. The platform is entirely cloud-based, and comes with core network, BSS and SIM management all-included.
As you save on integration times and deployment times, and everything is in place and ready to go, with floLIVE our customers have a single vendor to work with, and get to market within 6 weeks.
Just enough time to discuss your specific business requirements and customize the platform to meet your contextual needs.
Want to learn more? download the Holistic CMP white paper to learn about what else you could gain.