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Cellular IoT as a Service: Your Guide to Recurring Revenue

7 min read
Oct 30, 2023 11:08:28 AM

Offering IoTaaS alongside IoT devices allows your company to build recurring revenue streams and maintain a longer direct relationship with customers, which fosters brand loyalty. Cellular devices enable you to monetize connectivity as a subscription service to earn an additional stream of revenue.

Although starting or transitioning to a Cellular IoTaaS model can be daunting, Zipit has the experience and the platforms to assist you in navigating the complexities of Cellular IoTaaS, like cellular administration, subscription management, and global taxation rules. In this article, we’ll offer solutions to challenges faced when bringing Cellular IoTaaS offerings to market and highlight a Zipit customer who’s successfully provided cellular connectivity as a service for nearly a decade.  

What is IoT as a Service?

Similar to Software as a Service (SaaS), IoT as a Service (IoTaaS) is a model in which an IoT solution provider (often the device manufacturer) delivers various software and services over the Internet to users. 

IoTaaS adds “things” or hardware into the service equation that are not a component of SaaS products. IoT devices are equipped with sensors that transmit data and require connectivity for consistent data communication. The “service” component refers to the functionality of the device and the value (insights or data) those services provide to the end-user. 

IoTaaS also adopts the subscription billing model of SaaS. Subscription billing allows companies to earn recurring revenue by capitalizing on the continual IoT services offered over time rather than just monetizing the initial hardware sale.

What is Cellular IoTaaS?

Cellular IoT as a Service (IoTaaS) adds cellular services as part of the IoT offering to customers to provide recurring revenue. In the Cellular IoTaaS model, you pay on an ongoing basis for access to application platforms, like irrigation control or digital signage, where you can control devices and visualize data. You can monetize your product by offering services to end-users through monthly subscriptions. 

With cellular IoTaaS in particular, subscribers pay a recurring fee for cellular connectivity and usage of their devices. This continuous revenue stream improves your cash flow and deepens the relationship between you and your customers. It can also lead to significant growth in metrics, like revenue per customer and average revenue per device. As users engage with your service, you gain insights into usage patterns that drive further product improvements, allowing your company to up-sell even more valuable services. 

Cellular connectivity is complicated, and your company needs a platform to simplify connectivity management and operationalize these services properly. 

Zipit can assist you in implementing IoTaaS and IoT PaaS by providing a robust connectivity management and billing platform, a wide range of data plans, and the best IoT SIM options for expanding globally. Our platform gives easy-to-use tools for managing connections, flexible data plans, and multiple carriers. It also lets you monetize your devices with automated subscription billing, flexible billing models, and automatic tax calculations.

Why offer Cellular IoT as a Service?

Here are some of the reasons why offering cellular IoTaaS with a connectivity management and subscription platform is a compelling model:

Simplified connectivity cost management

By offering cellular IoT solutions, you incur monthly connectivity costs. When you treat connectivity as a cost of doing business, you open yourself up to the risk that IoT end-users use more data than expected, which means your costs rise. 

Why not monetize cellular connectivity through recurring subscriptions and link SIM activations and deactivations to payment status? Zipit’s platform gives your business greater control over connectivity costs, so you no longer need to guess how much cellular data your customers will or won’t use beforehand.

More recurring revenue and increased CLV

Adopting the 'as a Service' model means shifting to a subscription-based billing model. This ensures a steady stream of income for your business and gives you the opportunity to improve the value of services over time. Your cellular subscribers continue to reward you for that added value by paying for years to come, dramatically improving metrics like customer lifetime value and average revenue per device. 

Learn more: An Introduction to Monthly Recurring Revenue for OEMs

Easy adaptability to changing market demands

Keeping tight control of connectivity costs and monetizing cellular connectivity through a capable subscription platform can make your business more agile and adaptable to the changing demands of end users. If your end customers want to upgrade to larger data usage tiers over time, you can quickly add new subscription tiers with Zipit’s platform.

Reduced rollout times and fewer headaches for enterprise IT teams

Some IoT solution providers initially gravitate towards using Wi-Fi for their devices because it’s more cost-effective. However, deploying 3rd party devices in a corporate setting on a corporate network poses significant challenges due to security concerns and management complexity. By leveraging secure cellular networks from leading carriers, you can sell into the Enterprise without jumping onto customers’ corporate Wi-Fi networks.

Cellular IoTaaS case study: Bushnell

Zipit Wireless enabled Bushnell to introduce IoTaaS and generate consistent revenue through subscription billing for their wireless trail camera photos. Leveraging Zipit’s connectivity and billing platform, Bushnell can now activate cameras across various cellular networks and offer subscription-based data packages to customers. The platform seamlessly handles credit card transactions and enables Bushnell to run promotions.

Bushnell’s transformation yielded significant results. Their customers can now activate their trail cameras in under five minutes on the carrier network with the best coverage in their region, flexibly adjust settings remotely, and opt for one-time purchases or subscribe to recurring plans. For Bushnell, this meant not just a better user experience but also a substantial increase in revenue potential per device— averaging a threefold profit increase per camera. Through the collaboration with Zipit, Bushnell's trail camera service showcases the scalability and flexibility that IoTaaS platforms can bring to businesses.

How to offer Cellular IoT as a Service

1. Consider whether a subscription model would be viable for your business and cellular solutions.

Begin by analyzing your business and answering the following questions:

  • Are we selling cellular-capable solutions to 3rd parties like end-users or dealer networks?
  • Do we monetize cellular service alongside our hardware today, or is it a cost of doing business that we bundle for a finite period? (Example: After one year of prepaid service, customers must figure out how to renew services independently.)
  • How do we manage carrier connections today? Is it a manual process? Are we managing SIMs across multiple carriers in different countries manually?
  • Could we offer a compelling value proposition that customers would be willing to pay for over time? (Examples: A software application for digital signage, irrigation control, live video monitoring capabilities, etc.)

Learn more: How to Sell a Subscription for Your IoT Product

2. Choose a connectivity management platform that streamlines cellular administration across multiple carriers.

The reality for most businesses today is that they will outgrow one geographic region and desire to serve customers in several states, countries, or continents. This means that over time, you will likely need carrier connectivity from different mobile operators and will be managing SIMs in disparate platforms. This will become more complex and time-consuming as you scale your business. 

By leveraging a multi-carrier connectivity management platform like Zipit’s, you have a single pane of glass to oversee and manage all cellular devices, even if those are deployed on different carrier networks. As you scale, you can take advantage of existing carrier integrations to deploy devices into new markets in days instead of months. This will also help you gain control over your connectivity costs, so it will be easier to forecast what you could charge customers when you roll out subscription offerings.

3. Leverage an automated subscription billing system designed to support cellular IoT solutions.

Your billing solution should allow you to offer subscriptions for your IoT services and handle charges and plan modifications automatically. This system must be inherently designed with the unique needs and intricacies of IoT in mind. Instead of grappling with disparate systems for connectivity management and billing, choose an integrated solution. A unified platform not only simplifies your operations but also provides a way to link device activation status with payment status.

Learn more: What Is Subscription Billing Software?

4. Clearly communicate subscription services to customers.

Ensure that your future subscribers understand the value proposition of your services. Detail what's included in the subscription, any usage limits, and the benefits they stand to gain from different subscription tiers.

5. Implement a user-friendly payment portal.

Your connectivity management and billing platform should ideally provide a user-friendly portal that ensures secure transactions and enables customers to subscribe, oversee their subscription details, and track their data usage on-demand without requiring phone calls to your customer support team when activating a new device or upgrading their subscription plans.

6. Monitor customer usage patterns to create more compelling offerings.

Regularly monitor customer adoption rates, churn rates, and revenue to learn how customers use your devices and identify potential areas for improvement. This will help you forecast demand and ensure your offerings meet customer needs. Also, be prepared to adjust subscription plans, pricing, or features based on market demand and customer preferences.

Grow your Cellular IoTaaS offering with Zipit

Zipit Wireless can simplify the complexities of IoTaaS for your business to improve your profitability and operational efficiency. Our comprehensive connectivity management and billing platform equips you with the tools to offer IoTaaS to your customers.

Our platform's automated subscription billing allows you to efficiently monetize IoT devices, offering tailored subscription-based data plans to your clientele. We offer global and multi-carrier IoT SIM cards and simple multi-carrier management through the platform to further reduce complexity. This means you can expand your solutions globally without navigating multiple carrier contracts for quicker deployments and a faster time to market.

Your customers will benefit from our user-friendly customer portal, where they can effortlessly manage their subscriptions and monitor data usage. Additionally, our platform comes equipped with advanced monitoring and analytics tools, giving you invaluable insights into device connectivity and usage patterns. These insights empower your business to adopt a data-driven approach and fine-tune your services to align best with customer needs.

By partnering with Zipit Wireless, you gain access to a powerful platform that streamlines the complexities of offering IoTaaS so you can focus on innovation. 

Contact us to learn more about our extensive range of data plans and schedule a demo of our platform. 

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