There’s Complexity There: Billing and Revenue Recognition in the ‘Internet of Things’

By Aarthi Rayapura November 3, 2015

Internet of Things, or IoT, noun, def. (1) a network of physical objects embedded with technology to communicate, sense or interact with their internal states or external environment; (2) a very generalist, yet cool, buzzword for the idea that more and more everyday things around us can share and receive data; (3) the raison d’être for a skyrocketing number of start-ups, to the tune of incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion by 2020, according to Gartner, and bubbling initiatives in nearly 80 percent of today’s enterprises, per survey findings published by Forbes.

Clearly, it’s a hot time in IoT, with temperatures expected to rise in the coming years.

However, this easy access to a new world of data comes with its own set of back-end complexity businesses must consider.

A recent article examining the IoT billing market, “IoT Billing Presents Complex Puzzle,” highlighted just a few of the many requirements to be considered:

1) Complex value chains

2) Innovative services

3) Rapid partner on-boarding

4) Multiple business models

5) Micro transactions in high volume

6) Embedded products

7) Multiple types of customer interaction

Nothing new, really, for those in the revenue field faced with complex revenue models and rapidly growing enterprises.

The article, published by the communications industry forum, LightReading.com, is based on a report which analyzes how IoT impacts billing and billing solution trends, industry trends and challenges, through the feedback of a dozen IoT billing providers.

“The successful rollout of IoT products requires quality billing support, but billing is only part of the puzzle,” the article states. “Once the product is on sale, the vendor must also be able to recognize revenue from it. This may be more complex than companies anticipate.”

The reason for that, of course, is the massive shift in revenue accounting standards and the ensuing uptick in regulatory enforcement of said standards facing companies across the globe.

More firms are entering the IoT marketplace with the goal of adding recurring-revenue services to traditional transaction-based offerings, according to report findings.

As stated by Gartner, the IoT encompasses hardware (the things themselves), embedded software, communications services and information services associated with the things.

It is also an industry changing right before our eyes.

According to Peter Middleton, research director at Gartner, “The fact is, that today, many categories of connected things in 2020 don’t yet exist. As product designers dream up ways to exploit the inherent connectivity that will be offered in intelligent products, we expect the variety of devices offered to explode.”

As this industry continues to move ahead, expect the governing regulations to expand in lockstep.

For those looking out from within this still-burgeoning industry, the time is now to wrap your head around the right solutions.

Or, as the LightReading article states, “How billing products integrate with revenue-recognition solutions, and how they support security and regulatory requirements, will likely be prime concerns for customers.”