Unlocking the full potential of IoT through quality assurance
Achieving the kind of digital transformation required to implement a successful IoT initiative requires changes that must span the closely intertwined areas of strategy, processes and technology, breaking down traditional organisational and technical silos. Companies should closely examine every relevant area of their own business processes and commit to an ongoing plan of continuous improvement if they’re to reap the very real benefits of the IoT vision. This obviously also applies to the networks and connectivity domains that underpin any IoT offering and which must support increasingly complex value and revenue chains.
E2E view of the IoT delivery chain
The kind of Quality Assurance (QA) needed to guarantee IoT service delivery can only be performed when there is a true end-to-end view of the whole IoT connectivity chain. However, any data gathered through QoS (Quality of Service) software, probes or monitoring systems may turn out to be of little value unless it’s gathered and analysed with specific goals in mind. Valuable time and energy is often wasted tracking metrics that have no direct impact on Service Performance and user or Customer Experience. The same principles also apply to how the insights that these tools can give us should be acted upon in practice – especially when the network environment is often in a state of constant change. In BlueTC’s view, any kind of QA project must have senior executive support, be communicated to and supported across multiple departments, responsibilities and systems, emphasising that this is a continuous mission-critical initiative that translates into practice as a never ending search for efficiencies, optimisations and cost savings. The most common areas for these applications until recently have been within often vertically siloed operations, maintenance and field support activities. Each company, however, will have different needs and should monitor what is specifically necessary and useful for their own particular needs and operational and commercial environment if they’re to achieve a continuous improvement of service delivery, operations or any other processes.
While provider and partner services are vitally important to monitor, internal IoT service delivery models should also be analysed closely. The way a business’s own servers connect to their IoT devices – or any of the many intermediate checkpoints or protocols across the various network domains involved – are places where possible errors in configurations, hardware faults and degradations in performance need to be quickly identified, controlled, repaired and optimised if a seamless, optimal IoT service delivery environment is to be ensured for all the parties involved.
Quality Assurance in practice
Tele2 delivers one of the most comprehensive IoT platforms in the industry, providing global, secure mobile access and services for automating, controlling and optimising the delivery of IoT connectivity services to any vertical business. BlueTC is one of Tele2’s suppliers and also a partner in its M2M business. The company’s M2M Active Monitoring system is able to track a broad set of 2G, 3G and 4G network performance indicators in real-time and can independently measure the quality of service provided by any operator partner’s network. This is particularly valuable as M2M roaming becomes more important.
This Active Monitoring system allows vertical business customers to compare the quality of service available from multiple M2M connectivity networks and service providers before actually signing a commercial agreement. Once the contract is signed, the system then monitors in real-time the quality of the actual service, enforcing compliance with agreed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and providing hard, independent evidence in subsequent commercial negotiations. Today, Tele2 successfully employs BlueTC’s Active Monitoring system to gather and analyse performance measurements from their own network, allowing them to deliver proof to their M2M customers that agreed network quality parameters are actually being provided – and thus guarantee SLA compliance. This is especially critical in sectors like healthcare, security and asset management or in any mission critical IoT application.
New use cases for BlueTC’s Active Monitoring solution are being added as additional applications for M2M operators and business customers are developed.
Tele2 and Blue Telecom Consulting (BlueTC®) both facilitate the implementation of IoT solutions across multiple vertical sectors and they will continue to explore new ways for business customers to ensure optimal IoT service delivery strategies.