Monetizing the Internet of Things: The Need for Agile Billing

November 11, 2016

Technology evolves at an increasingly rapid rate, fueled by advances in networks and connectivity. A global trend has emerged and is causing major disruption in almost every industry: smart devices that connect to the internet. This Internet of Things (IOT, as it’s being called) affects both B2B and B2C service models, and is becoming a daily part of almost every person’s life.


It’s clear that there are enormous opportunities to capitalize on this growing trend facilitated by service management and billing systems capable and flexible enough to manage and bill in the new and somewhat undefined IOT frontier.


Monetizing IOT

IOT represents a major opportunity for companies that are forward-thinking enough to make use of this growing trend. One critical factor in supporting this global phenomenon is billing.

IOT has developed unique monetization models that require flexibility and agility to fully leverage them. We will explore two examples where IOT and the cloud have transformed not only the “Monetization of Things,” but also the enhanced, automated management of new products and services made possible by Internet-enabled devices.


IOT Enables Green Intercity Transportation

An alternative global public transportation company has bicycle rental kiosks in eight countries across the globe. All utilize IOT technology to manage inventory, monitor service, and directly bill customers.


Each bike has a unique identifier and is equipped with censors that transmit status notifications and geo-data. This makes it possible for the company to know when the bike has been accessed, when it’s parked or active, and to track the bike’s location and ride duration. The information is transmitted instantly to a centralized cloud billing and customer management system which tracks in real-time the customer’s billing, credits, entitlements, and charges based directly on live consumer product usage. This information is also leveraged to report on route information, so the company can make decisions about enhanced service offerings for things like discounts and incentives for under-utilized routes.


IOT Transportation billing

Each intelligent kiosk integrates with BillingPlatform over REST web-services to process payments and manage entitlements. Metrics like consumption, availability, and customer eligibility are accessed in real-time with the swipe of a card. Intelligent kiosks check whether the patron has sufficient funds or credits and also accesses his/her rental history and behavior to avoid potential theft or damage to the equipment. If the user is approved, the bike is released for use and the service is tracked against the user’s account.


By centralizing all management and communication into a single cloud system, BillingPlatform has replaced numerous specific billing and information systems. The system consolidates multi-lingual, multi-currency, and multi-time-zone service management, with the ability to support up-sell, cross-sell, and time-based discounts for specific, recurring subscriber accounts. All service and customer data can then be easily reported on and managed in one application across multiple geographies. BillingPlatform provides the flexibility to accommodate region-specific rules for things like payment gateway utilization, language, pricing, and currency. This substantially lowers the cost of maintenance, automates customer service and entitlements, and ultimately increases business agility.


IOT Enables In-Flight Entertainment

A provider of live, in-flight entertainment and connectivity for commercial and private aircrafts uses BillingPlatform and the IOT to monetize broadband satellite device usage and network traffic while managing a highly mobile equipment inventory in real time.


With highly flexible, built-in mediation and usage collection capabilities, BillingPlatform can rate and invoice multiple dimensions of service data from proprietary and specific satellite usage feeds. The configurable data model and application interface allows the provider to track and report usage data as well as manage discrete details about each customer’s Iridium satellite devices in-flight, as well as when these devices move from plane to plane or owner to owner. All IOT device data can then be reported on to produce a 360-degree view of all of their products, their physical location, and utilization.


IOT In-Flight billing

The company now has a complete end-to-end monetization and device management solution that dramatically increases business agility while enhancing and streamlining the management and tracking of expensive, mobile satellite devices.


Agile Billing

These examples demonstrate how IOT can transform the way companies manage and monetize their products and services to drive new and innovative business opportunities. This capability requires a new breed of monetization platforms that are highly agile and flexible both in their ability to integrate and meter a diverse and evolving dimension of service usage, as well as their ability to quickly model new business processes, products, and charging models end-to-end.


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Author: Nathan Shinn

Nathan Shinn, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Billing Platform, is known for his tireless work ethic and innovative vision ensuring the success of his company, clients and employees. As an engineer with over 20 years of experience in high-volume, enterprise information systems, he is closely involved in the technical evolution of the platform. Nathan earned his degree in Computer Information Systems from the Colorado State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. In the following years, he gained a reputation as one of the industry’s leading authorities on high-volume software systems, Enterprise Billing and Cloud technology.

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