Look around you. Everything changes. Everything on this earth is in a continuous state of evolving, refining, improving, adapting, enhancing, and changing.
– attributed to Dr. Steve Maraboli
In today’s rapidly paced technology boom, it is difficult to think of things that remain stagnant over time. Advancements in technology have the potential to improve the speed, cost and quality of goods and services available, and the potential to unlock large productivity gains in workers. The evolution of the Internet of Things also means that those in developing countries are more likely to have access to basic amenities such as healthcare and education.
Statista forecasts that over 75B devices are expected to be connected worldwide by 2025*. At times, statistics such as these can fail to register with a reader. The sheer volume of 75B devices is difficult to imagine. However, 75B devices is immense. Opportunities in the sector are endless, be it fitness trackers, connected fridges, smart waste management, autonomous vehicles or intelligent traffic lights. You name it, it can be connected.
As the IoT bubble continues to expand, your needs as a device maker operating or seeking to operate in this relatively new space evolve, bringing new and specific challenges to be addressed.
What are the challenges?
The IoT ecosystem is vast. For one product, a multitude of companies can be involved in the product delivery and lifecycle, ranging from cloud platforms to application providers to chip-set manufacturers. The challenges you face as an IoT device maker include managing these relationships with service providers and vendors in the ecosystem and negotiating contracts with each.
An emerging challenge you are often faced with when expanding is the ability to scale. Becoming compliant with differing regulations per country becomes a long and arduous task, potentially impacting the product’s scalability.
Device makers are historically not experienced in providing internet-connected devices and wouldn’t usually have an in-depth knowledge of software development. However, to stay ahead of competitors, making an IoT offering could be critical to your product’s survival. For example, there is a growing demand, and expectation among drivers for easy access to online services during their daily journeys. Automakers are now starting to include the ‘connected car’ service as part of vehicle value propositions.
Firstly, you need to be educated on what exactly is required if the device is going to connect to the cellular network. How much data is each device expected to use per month? How will you collect data on users? Can you secure the most competitive rates available with reliable connectivity providers? As the product scales, negotiating deals with various mobile network operators internationally could become a headache, with a web of intricacies to work through.
A connected product must be safeguarded from hackers. Security is multi-layered in an IoT ecosystem. Hardware, software, data and cloud security components are extensive and interoperable. Rigorous testing is required before a connected device can reach the market place.
Depending on the industry you are operating in, security requirements will differ, e.g. concerns over data leakage, vulnerabilities in the devices themselves, or access control. Data stored on the device must be encrypted and authenticated to protect data in the cloud.
Another factor to consider is whether security updates can be made to the device Over-The-Air. This is vital to the product’s survival for medium to long-term.
As mentioned above, the IoT ecosystem is vast. You would often have a preferred ecosystem of hardware and software providers to do business with. Once your product starts to scale and move across regional borders you could become tied-in to suppliers (both hardware and software) that you’re not familiar with. You may have to let go of a certain degree of control to deliver the connected element of your device. Seamless technical integration with each of these various players in the ecosystem could be difficult to achieve.
How you can address these challenges
Partner with a technology enabler which has necessary legal and regulatory expertise for operating in some of the trickier regions you wish to expand to.
You will increase your chances of compliance with local regulation, therefore ensuring deployment of future-proofed connected products. Indeed, your partner should be obsessed with avoiding the risk of product recall because of a newly issued rule on banning permanent roaming or of a government mandated restriction on selling already built connected products. Therefore, it is critical for a global IoT deployment and operation to offer appropriate experience with the right mix of compliance solutions, including setting up legal entities where required.
Leave the connectivity to the experts.
Partner with a technology enabler that has integration agreements already in place with network operators throughout your selected footprint. It’s essential for your connectivity partner to facilitate the set-up of a fully open and truly global ecosystem of network partners enabling global connectivity with a single global eSIM SKU in territories including Europe, Russia, Brazil, USA, UAE and the rest of GCC, Japan, South Korea and the rest of South East Asia. This should support a rich portfolio of technical integration approaches aimed at maximizing OEM device experience according to the target connected application. Integrations include full MVNO, local breakout and GSMA remote SIM provisioning.
Assess what elements of security apply to your connected product.
Seek advice from those already operating in this space. Ensure that your technology enabler can make seamless Over-The-Air updates to each device and carries out thorough testing in advance.
Choose a technology enabler that allows you freedom to compose your global IoT product and service infrastructure according to your evolving business strategy and commercial model.
Take the headache out of dealing with individual parties in a vast IoT ecosystem by outsourcing the process to technology enablers such as Cubic Telecom. Through listening to the device makers that we communicate with daily we’re operating a continuously improving technology solution stack to suit their evolving needs.
Cubic provides a wholly independent end-to-end global connectivity management solution through Platform Application Connectivity Enablement (PACE). With over 60 agreements with tier-1 network operators worldwide already in place, you can choose the components of your IoT ecosystem and PACE will integrate its connected capabilities with your chosen MNOs, as well as other hardware and software vendors.
These new integration capabilities make it easy for device manufacturers from an array of different industries to deliver a truly global connectivity solution to devices and end-users through one global SIM per device, and one global management platform. With open interfaces and flexible workflow operations, Cubic’s PACE technology enables you to adopt a Bring Your Everything approach. The IoT device maker is totally free to select its eSIM vendor, GSMA subscription manager, M2M module, Service Platform for the connected application, and the preferred MNO in a given territory.
With Cubic’s PACE technology, your essential requirements for global connectivity, fully secured and regulatory compliant connected products and services are satisfied. Cubic provides you with a single global SKU, a single point of control, advanced analytics and open subscription management capabilities. PACE stays ahead of evolving technologies and allows you to future-proof your devices. This is built for maximum OEM business flexibility, including the ability to dynamically onboard different mobile networks, their existing connectivity management platform, and preferred subscription management vendors at any point in a product’s lifetime. Cubic achieves this through our advanced eSIM and remote SIM provisioning orchestration technology.
The market opportunity for IoT device makers is unfathomable. If you can overcome the challenges associated with scalability and flexibility you could unlock the treasure trove of IoT’s potential.
*Source – Statista report 2018. Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices installed base worldwide from 2015 to 2025 (in billions)