What is the difference between connecting fish and cars?

 Or cows?

Ericsson have spent a couple of years now coming up with a series of innovations that harness the potential of M2M, or what we are referring to more and more as the Internet of Things (one of Machina Research’s predicted trends). From crab farming to the connected lunch, from healthcare innovation to connected homes and cars, Ericsson has been experimenting.

Which is fascinating.

But remember that this is the Year of Common Sense here at BillingViews. And also remember that it is one thing to consider the potential of connecting fish, cows, sheep and so on. It is entirely another to work out where the value lies, how to make money out of it and how to deliver, bill and monitor it all. It also seems that service providers who are gazing into the future are having simultaneous ‘aha’ moments. So they are struggling to find their niche, their business model and their differentiator.

Part of the struggle is that we tend to get over excited by possibilities. We can see the farm – fish or otherwise – with animals connected to monitors, so the farmer has more exact information about weight and therefore diet, weight and feeding or milking times. But then you consider the car and common sense leaves the building.

Leaving aside the fact that everything that is connected can be hacked – including the Google car that had its brakes switched off – the plethora of connected stuff that is being demonstrated and invested in must create so many distractions as to make it dangerous. If it is now illegal to make phone calls or text from a car, then imagine the number of civil servants sharpening their laptops to create a wave of regulations about listening to email, conducting car commerce and watching films while driving.

Billing has a unique role in this. Ultimately, getting the pricing, charging and billing right will make the difference between making money and not. For instance, split billing is being deployed in the AT&T connected car solution, so that customers will be billed for navigation and entertainment and the car maker will add the telematics and safety services.

Oddly, if we are talking about the kind of money I suspect we are talking about, then surely no customer would expect to pay subscriptions charges for, well, anything. Perhaps at those levels some model that involves reverse billing to the auto maker will make sense. And sense we must make of it.

Connected cows we have no problem with, connected health equipment, houses and even lunches make sense. But connected cars need care and common sense when playing with the business model.

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About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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