An interview with IoT Analytics’ Saverio Romeo and MDS Global’s Akil Chomoko

Revenue generation and management has always been an important objective for the telecommunication industry. With the advent of M2M before, and then IoT, that objective has become even more relevant considering that the large amount of data produced by IoT deployments is a strong source of new revenue ideas. IoT Analytics Principle Analyst, Saverio Romeo, met with Akil Chomoko, Chief Marketing Officer at MDS Global Ltd, to explore further the issues of IoT monetisation.

IoT Analytics Logo

Saverio Romeo (SR): MDS Global can be defined as an Agile IoT Monetisation Vendor. Can you explain to our readers what that consists of?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: MDS Global offers a cloud-based, fully managed solution called IoTMonetised. It’s a solution that can rate IoT application services for the purpose of charging end customers and settling with partners in the service chain. The challenge for many IoT enablers and CSPs is that the IoT monetisation model changes significantly from one IoT project to another. For example, one may be based on price per mile, while the next may be based on all the stakeholders benefiting from the savings made, with many variations in between, e.g. peak and off-peak rates etc.

The MDS Global IoTMonetised solution has specific service features that enable agile adoption to these business models and integrate directly to IoT applications in order to accelerate their time to market. These can then evolve as the IoT application matures and becomes more sophisticated.

Equally important, most IoT enterprises don’t have the expertise or skills to manage event-based charging, billing and payment collections, with real-time stakeholders and customer transparency. We do all of this, with full assurance, which covers accuracy to fraud management and ultimately, we become their monetisation practice.

SR: Which customer landscape do you serve with your services and platform solutions?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: We’ve profiled our customers into five categories. The first are operators that are looking to move beyond selling connectivity, because it’s now a low-priced commodity market, and instead deliver full IoT solutions and services to IoT-based enterprises. Research has suggested that in providing a monetisation solution, operators can generate eight times more revenue than IoT connectivity alone.

The second are system integrators who are looking to support IoT enterprises with agile, low-cost monetisation solutions as opposed to traditional complex, costly projects.

The third group are IoT platform vendors that require revenue management features to help their customers monetise the IoT applications they build on their platforms. The fourth are end IoT enterprises that need direct support to monetise their IoT innovations.

And finally, there is a growing market of virtual IoT operators and MVNOs who are looking to offer a more complete bespoke IoT service enablement solution to customers.

SR: Which benefits have your customers experienced adopting MDS Global IoT monetisation services?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: Our customers are benefitting in a number of ways. The most important is an accelerated, cost-light, OPEX solution which compares favourably to bespoke developments, ERP licences or traditional billing solutions. Many IoT ventures have limited initial capital that they need to invest in the core IoT application build and marketing. Unfortunately, they won’t have factored in the cost of billing and settling with their customer and partners. Our solution makes monetisation more accessible. There’s no need to hire a billing and settlements team, our amortised team is ready to go.

We offer the ability to swiftly evolve and change an SLA as required. As a company’s pricing model becomes more sophisticated, MDS Global’s agile platform and IPR can flex as fast as they do, enabling them to compete.

Finally, we have a team which offers thought leadership and experience with B2B and B2B2X charging models. We’ve been working with some of the largest enterprise operations for nearly 20 years. We have the credibility and there are few companies that can match our experience.

SR: Can you briefly discuss some real examples?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: Yes, most recently we’ve started working with Veriown, a Chicago-based IoT company who are combining solar power with internet connectivity. Veriown have partnered with specific 3rd party suppliers including MDS Global, and one of the UK’s largest mobile providers, to deliver services that have a monumental impact on the quality of life experienced by end consumers who, in this case, are typically based in environmentally or economically challenged countries.

Veriown provides a single device known as the CONNECT that acts as a clean energy, internet, media, education and commerce hub. There is an integrated SIM and tablet within the CHS device which provides access to online education, entertainment and commerce to Veriown customers in remote end-user locations.

To achieve their proposition, Veriown use the mobile operator for the internet access. They then determine which components a customer can access based on the proposition they sign up to. They operate a revenue sharing model between the operator, the local deployment partners and the local content partners. The MDS Global IoTMonetised solution is being utilised to calculate the revenue share to each partner, which will incorporate reconciliation of data from the suppliers. Veriown will also utilise IoTMonetised to view a customer’s transactions, managing the customer’s balance, propositions and payments, enabling greater business visibility and offering the ability to tailor packages to suit customer demand.

Using this infrastructure, Veriown are launching a number of free and add-on services that will provide consumers with solar energy for charging and lighting capabilities, access to news, weather and educational content, and access to an online catalogue of steaming radio and video content

SR: Which challenges have you experienced in proposing your approach to customers?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: There are a few hurdles that we’ve had to overcome. Many IoT Enterprises think of cost-plus or competitive pricing models as the only way of launching their business. Often these approaches make IoT business plans high-risk, infeasible, or starve their business of operating capital.

Many have not really worked backwards from a truly value-based pricing offer and thought about how to incorporate their partners and suppliers into a revenue or benefit sharing chain. When you distribute revenues this way you link risk, reward and quality together which is more sustainable for some businesses, their customers and often many partners.

We often come across far more complex monetisation models that are distracted by future-proofing, when they could instead start simple and build in complexity as their service and ecosystem evolves.

SR: Which emerging technologies do you see affecting IoT monetisation models?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: In the tech and telecoms space, we are awash with emerging technology that will impact our solution features. This includes the likes of Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, eSIM, 5G, network slicing via SDN/NFV models, IoT data lakes and edge computing technologies, to name a few. As a specialist monetisation vendor, it’s our role to exploit these to enable new benefits for end customers.

SR: How do you see the next year for MDS Global? Which is your short-term strategic focus?

Akil Chomoko, MDS Global: Although there is a lot of industry debate and investment in IoT, it is still relatively in its infancy. Our focus in the short-term is to build awareness of the opportunity to monetise IoT projects better so that they become sustainable in the middle and long-term. This includes supporting many existing B2B and enterprise services so that our customers can exploit these emerging technologies. They too should be able to offer more personalised services that deliver higher premiums. It’s become a very exciting market for us.

This interview also appeared in IoT Now. Read it here.