Innovating IoT for First and Last Mile Logistics.
Today, in our continuing study of XaaS revenue models, we review a case study from a company that is creating big change with a unified, neutral cloud monetization platform for logistics operators all over the world.
International Asset Systems (IAS), provider of the world’s largest intermodal information network, spanning thousands of operators and their trading partners, has jumped out ahead of its competition by embracing the IoT economy of the future and enabling their customers to monetize it. By creating a monetization platform upon which service providers can build, IAS has empowered 3rd party logistics providers, shipping lines and equipment operators to drive new revenue with existing assets.
Changing the Game
When asked at MGI Research’s Re>Think Billing Summit if they started out to solve a billing problem, Ed Schriger, VP of Product Management at IAS says, “Not a problem so much as the game was changing.” He explained that a shift in market dynamics; whereby ocean carriers looking to divest the expense of maintaining and storing the chassis equipment for moving containers over the road desired to shift the provisioning and burden of cost to the trucking companies responsible for movement. IAS addressed the challenge by building a tracking and day-lease billing solution that could handle the daily service volume needed so their customers could put their assets to work!
They accomplished this game-changing innovation by building an industrial IoT monetization application that meets the needs of their customers in two important ways: First, their application provides customer provisioning. Second, it handles event and rental transaction management. The entire solution is interfaced directly to the TRACT billing engine on the backend automatically, so transactions are processed in real-time, even at high volumes.
High Complexity, High Volume
While it may not be a telco level of volume, according to Schriger, IAS processes over 22 million movements per year. Each day of movement per party represents a potentially billable transaction. With complexity that high, IAS needed to be able to easily and simply figure out when things come and go, and who is the responsible bill-to party on the movement. Monetizing that level of activity, with all the variety and sources of data (special deals, contract number, date of activity, etc.) that goes into it, is entirely done within the billing platform.
Buy vs Build?
“We are good at community building,” explained Schriger. “We are good at logistics workflow. We didn’t want to have a whole business just to stand up our billing solution.” When IAS realized billing wasn’t a core competency for them, they partnered with goTransverse, a company with a deep domain expertise in enterprise billing.
Billing Vendor Selection
When selecting a partner to help them monetize their version of “IoT for First and Last Mile Logistics” Schriger explained that he initially started by reading analyst reports, such as The Forrester Wave™: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015 , but it quickly went beyond that. Schriger said, “At the end of the day, it came down to culture fit—do we fit with what they are doing as a company?” Priorities such as 24/365 global business operations and 99% SLA are exactly the kind of white-glove service goTransverse prides itself in upholding. IAS selected goTransverse in part because of the team of monetization experts dedicated to being trusted partners for them and their customers.
In IAS’ space, it’s about having the most accurate, bulletproof billing solution in the space. With the help of goTransverse, IAS created a platform that is believable, readable and consumable. Their customers saw the exposed value in the market and capitalized on it. IAS defines their success by when their customers make money. By automating the high volume of activity-based transactions accurately and at scale, and eliminating receivables issues for their customers with accurate, timely invoices, IAS has leap-frogged their competition with the only solution of its kind in their space.
Learning from the Experience
The biggest assumption that was challenged during the first rollout was around how customers wanted to pay. IAS focused on the transactions and getting the statement out accurately, but deprioritized focus on how customers pay. The rhythm of how and when to issue statements and schedule bill cycles determined how their clients did their own re-billing to their users and then when to be ready to pay IAS. Having an agile system vendor, like goTransverse, as their partner was critical to quickly address those issues.
What was Lacking?
It’s hard to know everything you need until you get there and see it. Initially, the needs for revenue reporting were not well defined in the project scope. Here again, partnering with goTransverse, an expert in collecting and recognizing revenue, helped keep the project on target and on schedule. With native revenue recognition built directly into the TRACT platform, it was easily configured to provide the needed data when finance needed it.
Getting in Front of Issues
One of the biggest challenges from early in the project was the perception from customers that the data would not be accurate enough. IAS addressed these concerns in an innovative way. First, they stood up a billing preview capability within their system, so customers could assess the data and output before it went live. This allowed IAS to put the dispute process up front to take pressure off the collections department. With a combined strategy of addressing accuracy and getting in front of disputes, as well as plenty of agile iteration over the first 15 months of the project, IAS has successfully launched the leading chassis and logistical management system with daily reporting capabilities.
For IAS, the key is that their IoT monetization platform does not operate in a functional silo, but is a collaborative effort of everyone on the team. They perceived a market need and pursued that opportunity. For the next leaders in industrial IoT monetization, its not about what “can” be monetized but about understanding the needs of the community and how to solve their problems.
But You Don’t Have To Take Our Word For It!
To learn more about how IAS is transforming the way innovative companies monetizing industrial IoT opportunities, read this white paper from independent analyst firm, Beck Anderson Research: A Practical Guide to Monetizing the Internet of Things.
Watch this Case Study from the Re>Think Billing Summit with Ed Schriger of IAS and moderated by MGI Research for the full story!