Analysis paralysis. It’s a risk that organizations face as they attempt to navigate their way through the early stages of their IoT journey; it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of decisions that you need to make. Even before you have deployed a device, you need to make choices on hardware, software, and connectivity technologies, to name a few. Then once deployed, you’ll need to manage your devices. A lot goes into productizing an IoT deployment, and depending on how you have chosen to connect those devices, just sorting the connectivity appears daunting.
One of the most crucial decisions is the choice of a Connectivity Management Platform (CMP). Designed to help reduce the operational workload for organizations deploying and scaling their IoT with a managed cellular connectivity service, the CMP forms the critical link between your devices, the network, and the reliable delivery of your IoT data. It’s vitally important to select the right provider with the platform that satisfies – at the very least – all your essential requirements. The right CMP can provide you with powerful tools which help protect your investment and maximize the value realized from each device at every stage of their life cycle. For organizations looking to deliver successful, high-performance IoT projects, a comprehensive, fit-for-purpose CMP will be a core part of their solution design.
A CMP enables organizations to lower the overheads associated with managing at-scale IoT connectivity and dramatically increase their control. It will also provide access to invaluable data and insights, helping to optimize existing deployments and increase new project success rates.
Some of the principal benefits of an IoT connectivity management platform are:
- Scalable connection management
- Reduced operating costs
- Increased control and predictability
- Increased security
- Increased visibility
- Powerful data insights
Choosing a CMP is just one more item on the endless to-do list for IoT decision-makers. As with most things in life, with a bit of guidance, things can be more manageable. We’ve outlined some of the essential features and capabilities you should have in mind when considering platform offerings.
IoT SIM Profile Management
Managing SIM profiles is the most fundamental requirement for any connectivity management platform, and efficiently managing SIMs, from stock to the point of activation and then throughout their life cycle to the eventual device decommissioning. To be regarded as a serious contender, a CMP should support the activation of thousands of SIMs at once, and you should expect to be able to get an at-a-glance view of the status of all your SIM deployments regardless of location, network, or technology.
Additionally, a CMP should allow you to customize how you control your deployment, giving you the ability to group SIMs and manage all SIMs either collectively or individually. On a per SIM basis, you should be able to drill down to view all relevant information, view status, when data was last sent, over which network, and on what rate plan.
Every IoT deployment is different in size, scope, and function, so your CMP must be able to accommodate SIM profile management with multiple levels of control and a comprehensive degree of configuration and customization. One size most definitely does not fit all.
Alerts, Monitoring, and Reporting
In choosing your connectivity management platform, consider one that keeps you fully informed of issues in your SIM estate. Custom alerts notify you – either interactively within the platform or via email – of any abnormal or undesired activity across your fleet of SIMs. Precisely what these alerts relate to might depend on your specific deployment scenario, but common alerts would include failures to connect or data overages. Proactive awareness will provide an effective mechanism for you to keep on top of the management of your IoT connections and ensure that you don’t overlook mission-critical issues.
Comprehensive monitoring functionality has significant benefits not only for day-to-day optimizations but also for spotting potential vulnerabilities. Your CMP should provide the ability to confirm that your devices connect using the right expected networks at appropriate times and use the correct parameters. You should be able to see basic authentication information for each device and view a historical record of connection attempts and activity. Identifying and spotting irregularities in the connection behavior of your devices should be simple, as should the ability to take corrective action to resolve any issues.
Your chosen CMP should also provide analytics on crucial data to ensure you have complete visibility. The platform might deliver these insights via in-product dashboards or customizable data exports. The CMP should support reporting on several different variables such as usage, protocol, IP, device, sessions, and more. Ultimately, your CMP should provide you with the transparency necessary to optimize your deployment using the metrics that matter most to you.
Rate Plan Management and Billing
With deployments become more complex, involving different classes of devices, best served by a range of connectivity technologies, and each optimized for specific data volumes and throughput, it can be tough to get a consistent view of costs.
Your connectivity management platform should provide a clear and transparent view of the rate plans available for your IoT fleet, the associated network operators, the contract lengths, and all relevant charges. Additionally, the platform will provide you with a complete and detailed view of everything related to billing, and accessing invoices should be straightforward. Simply put, your CMP should obviously and dramatically simplify your life and reduce your administrative burden.
Getting this consolidated view of costs is extremely important, particularly as deployments scale, providing greater predictability and removing the instances of bill shock, which can quickly put the brakes on any project.
Are We Done Yet?
So by now, you should know what an IoT connectivity management platform is and why it’s so important. Hopefully, this blog has helped set expectations regarding the core features you should get with any connectivity management platform; the best platforms can do more. The market moves quickly, and your platform will need to be able to keep pace. Importantly, look for the ability to onboard new network technologies quickly, scale across regions, and manage the eSIMs you’ll be deploying as a means of future-proofing your IoT solution.
And don’t forget, connectivity management is only one part of the IoT puzzle; most CMPs don’t include functionality related to managing the devices themselves. If you want to get the most out of your IoT deployment and ensure the long-term security of devices, you’ll also need to plan your strategy for device management. Yes, that’s yet one more round of decisions, but maybe it’s a discussion for our next blog.