This week, 1oT Chief Product Officer Mikk Lemberg joins us to talk about connectivity management platforms. He shares what they are, why they’re important, and gives some insight into how companies like 1oT interface with the rest of the IoT space.
Mikk outlines the current landscape for connectivity management platforms, how they differ, and how the market currently interacts with its connectivity options. He also shares his predictions for the connectivity space as more data migrates to the cloud. Finally, Mikk shares his advice for companies looking to implement IoT into their own processes and operations – including when companies should reach out and what they should keep in mind as they consider a connectivity management platform for their own solutions.
Interested in connecting with Mikk? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About 1oT: 1oT is a leading European technology company focused on making cellular connectivity more affordable and convenient for IoT businesses. Our services help IoT and M2M companies scale globally with a single end-to-end connectivity service. Founded in 2016, 1oT has already sold more than 500,000 (e)SIMs that have gone to 120 different countries.
Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(00:57) Intro to Mikk Lemberg
(01:42) Intro to 1oT
(03:05) What’s the role of a Chief Product Officer?
(04:18) Use Cases
(06:16) How do you interface with telecoms?
(07:11) What is a connectivity management platform? Why is it so important?
(10:31) What does the landscape look like for connectivity management platforms?
(12:22) What is the market currently looking for?
(14:33) How does the migration toward the cloud affect this space?
(16:23) When in the development process should companies reach out?
(18:09) How do you gain the trust of enterprise customers?
(20:25) News from 1oT
– [Voice Over] You are listening to the IoT For All Media Network.
– [Ryan] Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the IoT For All podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Chacon, and today’s guest is Mikk Lemberg, the Chief Product Officer of 1oT. He joins me today to talk about all things connectivity management platforms, what they are, how they work, and how they fit into the IoT landscape. But before we get into this episode, if any of you out there are looking to enter the fast growing and profitable IoT market, but don’t know where to start, check out our sponsor Leverege. Leverege’s IoT solutions development platform provides everything you need to create turnkey IoT products that you can white label and resell under your own brand. To learn more, go to iotchangeseverything.com, that’s iotchangeseverything.com. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the IoT For All podcast. Welcome back to the IoT For All show, thanks for being here this week.
– [Mikk] Thank you for inviting me and hello to everybody.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it’s great to have you. I’d really appreciate it if you could start off by just giving us a quick introduction about yourself, background, relevant experience, all that good stuff.
– [Ryan] Sure. Yeah.
– [Mikk] My name is Mikk Lemberg. I’m a Chief Product Officer at 1oT, and then about myself, actually my background lies more on the marketing side, but I graduated or developed into the product side and then I’ve studied and worked as a business designer. And therefore I’m leading the product innovation cycle and the value offering here at 1oT, so that our offering is still relevant to the customers, we are ahead of the trends, and we solve their everyday problems and needs.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, I have two follow-up questions to that. One is, tell us a little bit more about 1oT and at the same time, I’d love to hear a little bit more about the role of a Chief Product Officer in the IoT space and what you do and the main purpose and objective of a role like that.
– [Mikk] Sure. So 1oT is an independent seller connectivity provider to IoT businesses or service providers. So how we started is we saw in the market the problem that it’s quite hard to scale or expand your business from one country to another, you have to go through the whole contract negotiations, pricing negotiations, all these topics. So we saw the value of bringing this onto one offering, so that from the customer perspective or from the IoT business perspective, they have one point of contact for their SIM cards, for their invoicing, for their pricing, for the support. So that was the value offering at the beginning, and with the introduction of eSIM or the remote SIM provisioning, everything aggregating, all different telecoms onto one platform and into one service is quite feasible and super good solution for the customers.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Yeah, go ahead, sorry.
– [Mikk] And then I just wanted to jump onto the other question that you had about the product officer and my role specifically, then we saw from the very beginning that it’s not that efficient to have all the support people manage the customer SIM cards. So it’s better to give them self-service platforms so they themselves can manage and handle their SIM cards and the IoT connectivity side of things. So in the company, my main responsibility is about developing this platform, but I’m also overseeing all sorts of carrier relations and also the types of customers we are going after and what are value added services that we can offer to them so that the one package would suit their needs and yeah, but the main responsibility lies in that SIM management platform.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well, that’s great. Yeah, I haven’t really spoken to many Chief Product Officers here on the podcast, so it’s great to learn a little bit more about what that role entails and how it fits in because you guys play a critical role in the development of a lot of these offerings to the market in our space. So that’s great. One question I wanted to ask you about 1oT is, if you could share some use cases or some applications of your technology in the real world to help bring more full circle to from what it is that you do to actually being deployed out in the world.
– [Mikk] Sure. By application, you mean like a customer use case?
– [Ryan] Yeah. Anything that shows the power and the application of the technology.
– [Mikk] All right, all right. I guess the simplest example to wrap your head around is micro mobility and then e-scooters or scooter sharing companies. By the best of our knowledge, we are the biggest SIM provider to all sorts of these e-scooter companies across the world. And the problem for them is that they want to scale super quickly to different countries or even regions, and then open new cities continuously, right? So for them to get the SIM cards from one company and then manufacture the SKUs or the scooters as one without actually having to go through the different implementations for let’s say, LatAm or Europe or Africa or whatnot, they can do everything with the same package and then afterwards their business team or whoever then can decide, all right, we have manufactured a hundred thousand scooters, we are now ready to operate in Berlin, let’s send this, send the scooters to Berlin and they work. Let’s send the scooters to some US city and they work over there. So that’s the biggest use case of this micro mobility sector within our connectivity customers. And then I think it’s also quite easy example for the people or listeners to wrap their head around because probably they have seen these scooters around the cities.
– [Ryan] Do you work with telecoms at all? And if you do, I’d love to hear how telecoms and you all work together.
– [Mikk] Yeah, absolutely. Telecoms are our biggest partners in that sense. We ourselves don’t own any of the core networks. So this is where the independent aspect comes in, that we have made 13 different telecom agreements who enable us to provide global connectivity in 190 countries, so we are in a sense aggregating their services onto this one eSIM that then our customers can manage over there, which subscription or which carrier profile suits their needs best, and what’s the demand that they can over there remotely subscribe or remote provision this telecom broadband.
– [Ryan] Okay. That makes a lot of sense. And I wanted to break down just for a second, what a connectivity management platform actually is. I mean, in the name itself, it obviously really hints at obviously what it is that it does, but if you could break it down into layman terms for people who may be unfamiliar or learning more about IoT, what exactly is a connectivity management platform and why is it so important for an IoT solution?
– [Mikk] Yeah, definitely. I think let’s start from the IoT business point of view. So in that sense, this is the platform that our connectivity customers receive and have access to. And then, so what they can do on this platform, because there’s also another side, which is for the telecoms, or for our account managers which they can do, so in that sense, it’s the same platform, but there are different functionalities and needs. But for those IoT businesses, let’s say scooter companies, what they need is mostly change the SIM status, right? So of course you want to, when the scooters are not working in order to save costs, you can easily put them to sleep or offline. They don’t do any data and then you don’t have any running costs, right?
– [Ryan] Gotcha.
– [Mikk] Then the other bit is making sure that you don’t have any frauds or these devices going crazy. So for example, we have built in like data limit systems and then the other notification systems and workflows in order to stop these, maybe some devices software update has some bugs or what not, so the data consumption increases a lot. So you put some kind of limit like, “Hey, if it reaches 30 megabytes, then close the SIM”, because this is not the usual, or maybe there’s somebody who takes out the SIM card, we can even track this, so it’s a stolen SIM card or this SIM goes to another country, it’s also a example of a stolen device. So all these kinds of things the customers can build-in in our platform with the automation workflows, and then the other smart features. Then there’s also the billing and the invoicing and the pricing side of things. As discussed, we have the self-service platform. So for them to send the devices to the new country, then they don’t really need to call us or talk to the account manager. They can do this by themselves, within the platform, check out the country, what’s the available network technologies, if it suits them, what’s the price, and then they can just assign like, “I have these hundred SIMs in my inventory, these SIMs will go to now Paris, I want to have them this subscription, and I want them go live next month.” So they can manage those things themselves and then this also gives opportunity for us to make these processes internally quite efficient. So because there isn’t a human factor in between, and then sometimes with the telephone games and what not, things can go out of hand as well.
– [Ryan] And can you tell us a little bit more about the current landscape of the connectivity management platform, kind of industry, if you will. So obviously, we talked a lot about what 1oT does and the independent nature of it, but there are tons of other companies I’m sure out there who play in a similar space. And if you could just lay out what the landscape looks like and how it differs depending on potential use case or industry focus or scale and how all that fits together.
– [Mikk] Sure. So in general, we see that there’s three types of companies offering these connectivity management platforms, right? First of all, you have the good old telecom infrastructure vendors, these are the big guys. Is it the Ericsson or Cisco or whoever, they have their own platforms, these are audit telecoms and not so much about the end customer or the IoT business, right? Then there is telecoms owned platforms, for example, Vodafone has developed their own DMA, wanting to do their own thing. So these are the telecom owned, and then the next layer is companies like us who let’s say, are these new up-and-coming platforms that are building for specific use case or for specific target group. So for example, there are platforms that cater for huge enterprises who already have multiple SIM providers in their inventory, or there are platforms for automotive industry. So there’s a bit of specialization already in hand happening but these are mostly from the younger and up-and-coming companies.
– [Ryan] Gotcha. And if we’re to look at the market today and how IoT is currently building itself and growing, what do you feel like the market is really looking for? And how do you compare that to what solutions are actually out there on the market for people to use now, and where do you see it going?
– [Mikk] Right, so I think this is now a great opportunity to turn this conversation more around why telecoms need this connectivity management platform as well. So in that sense, as I mentioned, there’s the other side of connectivity management platforms for the telecoms because it can be used as like a support tool or even like a overarching view of your whole IoT business, right? And then why the telecoms are looking for it? There are multiple reasons. First of all, there’s market demand, that the market demands, their customers demand the modern self-service platform because they have seen it like, “This is available, but I’m already using so much, or I have invested so much money into buying your SIMs, but I still want the platform, like do something.”
– [Ryan] Right.
– [Mikk] And developing it yourself takes, from our experience, two or three years, and then that’s why those companies start looking out for other opportunities. Then there’s also a lot of huge tenders, and those tenders already have a requirement, like in order to apply, you need to have a ELSA connectivity management platform.
– [Ryan] Gotcha.
– [Mikk] Then there’s also the side that like, you want to start your own IoT business line, maybe that you haven’t really focused on connectivity side, you were only doing the consumer business, but in order to get started, you also have to offer some value. And then this is where the self-service connectivity management platform comes into the picture. And then if you don’t have to develop it, but you can white label it, then you get the headstart and you already have a advantage in your country or in your region compared to other telecoms.
– [Ryan] And as more companies these days, in especially the IoT space, are moving towards the cloud, how are connectivity management platforms really fitting that overall business model, or I guess, how does that move towards the cloud help for success when it gets mixed in there with the connectivity management platform itself?
– [Mikk] Right, I think it brings a lot of innovation because we also consider our platform as like, it’s added as a soft layer on top of the telecom’s core network, and their own software layers and the tech stack. So in that sense, let’s say simple API integrations, and it’s just an interface that their end customers or IoT businesses can access to, and I think this easiness or everything moving to cloud, and then only relying on the simple API integrations to facilitate this data information and other kinds of information, then this allows to keep developing those platforms. And you will have new features, value added services on the platform, which are not so reliant on the core network features or infrastructure which is a lot of investment in terms of money and time, and also the competence of the knowledge, but then you can actually focus on the sauce business and then focus on the end customer and the UX, and then the value for the IoT business, and then the telecoms can rely on their core competencies and have this fundamental layer simply with them. But that additional value comes from the cloud and the efficiency and that moving quickly and saving money.
– [Ryan] So if I’m out there listening to this and learning more about connectivity management platforms and their value, which you’re very well articulating here today, is there a certain point in the development of an IoT solution all the way from basically the ideation to the scale that they should be thinking about, the right connectivity management platform for their solution or when they should be actually reaching out to a company like yours to start discussing and then potentially implementing, is there a too early of a time to do this, or is there a more like proper time that you do feel is the right moment to really fit in with what they’re looking to do?
– [Mikk] I wouldn’t say that there’s a time that’s too early. Of course, how we have built the platform is that you can enable more functionalities as you grow. Obviously, you don’t need all the bells and whistles from the get-go but you need to still have a simple platform and then that allows you to do the basic SIM management and everything that’s related to billing and pricing. This is the basic element, and this is what you need from the get-go or even like having invisibility into data sessions and all these topics. So this is what you need from the very beginning and therefore I encourage everybody who is interested or who is thinking about it to reach out as early as possible, because yeah, we can help you avoid the mistakes of trying to build something yourself, or going through the mistakes yourselves. So in that sense, yeah, I encourage everybody to be smart, learn from everybody else’s mistakes and then skip or fast-track onto a working solution.
– [Ryan] Right. Well, that’s fantastic. I’ve one main last question before we wrap up and I wanted to ask when you’re interacting with customers, how are you all gaining the trust of these enterprise customers and working to level the playing field with what telecoms are offering and do you recommend companies work with one IoT as opposed to going directly to a telecom or some of these other solutions out there? What is it that you’ve found been successful in those conversations to get people to not only understand, but at the same time then adopt?
– [Mikk] Right. That’s a very good question. And I think the main thing is we now already have a quite proven track record, let’s say, half a million of SIMs sold, and also we have those telecoms’ partners and also three telecoms that we have white labeled to the connectivity platform to run their own IoT business. So having this track record, but how we got here, I think the main thing is developing the relationship and then understanding their problem and then offering solutions and going the extra mile that may be like, you even think about the problem after that which they can’t describe at the moment, but if you have the core competencies and you know the subject, then you can see the red flags already further away that the customer can. So through these conversations and then showing your expertise and knowledge, and then showing that you are able to understand their issues and then you want the best for them, and so I think, yeah, if you share the outcome, or if you share the same code, then it’s quite easy to overcome these trust issues as well.
– [Ryan] Yeah, that’s great. I think I’ve seen a very similar approach in a lot of different areas of IoT, whether it’s talking about connectivity to the hardware, talking about the application side of that, that trust, that relationship development goes a long way in working to build the relationships that lead to working relationships. And then at the same time, the adoption and success at any point in time during that stage of the IoT journey. So this has been a fantastic conversation. One thing I wanted to ask you as we wrap up, is there anything new or exciting coming out from 1oT that we should be on the lookout for, any new use cases or any kind of applications, or technologies, solutions, offering, you name it, anything that we should be kind of paying attention to?
– [Mikk] Sure, I think we can announce that we are soon releasing separate SAS platforms for the huge enterprises who already have, let’s say, multiple vendors offering their SIM card, but they need a single pane or view of all their SIM cards. And then we have been able to crack the code, how to make these integrations super easy for those IoT businesses and then, therefore we are super excited about this SAS offering, which should be available quite soon. And yeah, me personally, I’m super excited about this development as well because it’s a new angle that we are bringing to the market. And then also something that we haven’t been, or we haven’t done before.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. And if our audience out there wants to follow up with questions, talk more about their own projects, how you all might be able to work together, fit in, or just generally want to follow up to this conversation here today, what’s the best way to do that?
– [Mikk] The best way to learn more about 1oT is go to our website, 1ot.com. Quite easy to find us, but also they can write to me, [email protected] So just add a dot between my first and last name and yeah, you can reach out and then we can see how we can help you. And what’s the problem that the customer or the company has.
– [Ryan] Fantastic. Well Mikk, this has been a great conversation talking about a subject that is super important in the IoT space and one that we don’t cover nearly enough. So I really appreciate your time today and thanks for being here.
– [Mikk] Thank you for inviting me and I hope it was a good conversation for everybody.
– [Ryan] Yeah, it was fantastic. Thank you.
– [Mikk] Thank you.
– [Ryan] All right, everyone. Thanks again for watching that episode of the IoT For All podcast. If you enjoyed the episode, please click the thumbs up button, subscribe to our channel and be sure to hit the bell notification so you get the latest episodes as soon as they become available. Other than that, thanks again for watching and we’ll see you next time.