Strategic Solution Series

Homegrown M2M Platform Enables Vodafone to Be More Responsive

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  November 13, 2014

Vodafone (News - Alert) is the leading player in the M2M space. Vodafone shipped 17.5 million SIMs for M2M customers globally in total. At the heart of every M2M solution it offers is the Vodafone Global M2M Platform, which is a powerful self-service delivery and management tool based on patented technology.

The Vodafone Global M2M Platform enables users to quickly and efficiently change rate plans, provision SIMs, run reports, change settings, perform diagnostic queries, and more. It includes such features as location-based services, device management and a business rules engine, and Vodafone continues to add new features to expand on the platform’s core premise. 

M2M Evolution magazine recently interviewed Jim Cavanaugh, Head of M2M Technical Sales at Vodafone Global Enterprise, to learn more about the platform and its central role in the valuable M2M solutions Vodafone delivers.

How did Vodafone go about designing the platform, and how has the platform evolved over time?

The M2M platform genesis was based on customer demand, and it continues to evolve based on that demand. We are constantly evaluating the wants and desires of the customers, and since we own the platform and develop it in-house, we can add the functionality that makes sense for the broader community.  We deploy several major updates each year with constant incremental improvements to performance, functionality or ease of use.  Every enhancement is based on customer feedback. 

The platform has a real-time alerting capability. How does that come into play?

The M2M platform has alerting on several levels. At the most basic level, we can send e-mails and create reports if a SIM card has exceeded specific, multi-tier thresholds of data, SMS, or voice usage. The use case for this is simply to say ‘Your device is using more service than you had anticipated, give it a look.’ This has been in the platform since its inception. 

Vodafone recently introduced the Business Rules Engine feature. Tell us about it.

This is a logic-based system where a matrix of event triggers can be set, and then aligned with a variety of actions. The event triggers can be associated with a single SIM, a group of SIMs, or a whole account. They can be measured in varying time spans, such as hourly, daily, monthly, and measure different aspects such as usage, lack of usage, time in a specific provisioning state, and so forth. The actions can be as simple as alerts and reporting, or more tactical with rate plan changes or SIM suspension. Using the business rules, a customer could set a very simple rule that when a SIM has its usage measured, if it exceeds a specified threshold, it’s moved to a new more cost-efficient rate plan, and if it exceeds another threshold, it is suspended with notification. 

The platform’s diagnostic tools allow users to diagnose SIM problems such as misconfiguration, RADIUS proxy issues, and sudden spikes in data transmissions. How can this enable your customers to save money and realize ROI on their M2M implementations?

The key benefit to our tool sets is operational efficiency. Because we provide a global roaming SIM, with a single contract, single help desk, single network interface and single Web Interface and API set, we can allow a very small organization to operationally manage deploying devices to over 190 countries and provinces. It’s the build-once, deploy-anywhere model. Now extend that to providing training on a single platform, the fixed skill set required for a small group of support and operational personnel, as well as enabling a high level of automation through our APIs and rules engine, and you can run a vast M2M deployment on a very small budget. So, yes, we can easily allow a company to never have bill shock due to excessive usage from a runaway device, but that is not where the real money is saved. It’s being able to operate a vast, global network solution with minimal opex costs and overhead. That’s money in the bank every day.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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