The Pelion Partner Ecosystem is designed to help our customers safely manage their IoT deployment at all stages of maturity. Our newest Partner DevicePilot’s suite of tools provide essential service monitoring capabilities to support the journey to scale and ensure the highest levels of service quality. Pelion’s Senior Market Development Manager Sally Atkinson spoke with DevicePilot’s CEO Pilgrim Beart to understand more about the necessity of service monitoring, our new Partnership and what excites him about IoT.
A connected device is a service. It delivers value to the customer only when it is working: use by use, hour by hour, day by day. If it’s not working, it’s not delivering that value, the customer will get unhappy and eventually stop paying.
It takes time, effort and money to design and build an IoT product… and then you launch it and discover you need to invest yet more in the people and tools needed to actually run your growing fleet of devices successfully.
Early on – with hundreds of devices deployed – the customer experience is often not good-enough. This can be for many reasons, including a new proposition, complex technologies, customer learning curves – or simply because devices have to be deployed into the uncontrolled real world.
Whatever the reasons, devices often end-up badly installed, offline, misconfigured and unreliable, failing to consistently deliver the value that the customer is paying for, one way or another. This makes customers very unhappy, creating business risk.
In these early days, it’s possible to paper over these cracks by lavishing enormous amounts of time, care and attention on each early customer. But that approach fundamentally does not scale – you cannot scale a manual support process to grow your device fleet into the thousands and millions.
In principle, the very ‘connectedness’ of IoT devices enables a much better way. Problems in service delivery are often visible in device telemetry, perhaps even before the customer knows there’s a problem. That offers the potential to turn a reactive customer support process (waiting for the phone to ring) into a proactive one (where you’re the first to know there’s a problem, and perhaps can even fix it before the customer knows).
But to do that, your team needs tools: Tools for asset-management, to turn telemetry into insight, to triage problems, to take action in response, perhaps even automatically. The right tools dramatically transform a team’s ability to deliver great customer experience, while controlling costs and enabling growth.
DevicePilot is that suite of tools. It enables Customer Support and Operations teams to see exactly what’s going on, and to build the processes to deliver excellent customer experience at growing scale.
We call it Service Monitoring.
Tell us a bit about the team, your backgrounds, and what drives you
Everyone in our team originally did an engineering degree, and we like to understand how stuff works from the bottom up. Some of us then went on to become professional software developers, others to get involved in product management and sales, and even to found telco and IoT companies. So we’ve experienced first-hand the growing pains of connected devices in our own companies, as well as now with all the IoT companies that DevicePilot helps.
For example, our CEO Pilgrim Beart started a company called AlertMe that built the UK’s first mass-market smart home platform, now known as Hive™. The journey from individually supporting customers to ultimately delivering millions of connected devices through large utility, telco and retail partners took 9 years.
We’re also motivated by our day-to-day experiences – with more and more connected devices in the world: our cars, parking ticket machines, smart meters… the list is endless. We experience personal frustration when they don’t work properly – it actually affects our quality of life! Poor design, or poor execution. Having gone through that journey, we absolutely appreciate how hard it is to get it all right: the “it just works” magic delivered by companies like Apple comes from a lot of very hard work, most of it invisible. So we know that it hard, but we know that it is possible, with focus, effort and dedication.
We’re passionate about sharing our experiences, to help others get there quicker and with less pain.
Why did you become a Pelion partner?
Although IoT is already a massive market, it’s still relatively immature, and only gradually are we getting clarity into what are the “standard” categories of component, the software layers, that everyone needs to build a successful connected-product service. One of those is Device Management – the stack of software which sits on the device, and the tools and processes for managing it through its lifecycle, including firmware updates. Security is a key aspect and something that many IoT devices still struggle to get right for many IoT devices, and we can see that Pelion’s ARM heritage gives it a strong understanding of the end-to-end nature of security.
A second layer is of course Communications – a device is only smart if it is connected. So Pelion offers two key components, or layers, that every IoT vendor needs. And DevicePilot offers a third layer: Service Monitoring.
These layers are complementary: DevicePilot Service Monitoring can ingest information from the Device Management and Communication layers, to build a picture of the estate and its health. We also takes in data from the Application layer – for example, in a vending machine that would be information about products vended, and issues to do with the mechanism, power supply etc. – all to answer the question “are we serving the customer well?”.
So in this early market, as companies specialise in supplying different layers, it’s vital that they collaborate to paint a coherent picture to the customer of how everything joins-up – and ensure that it does! So we’re delighted to partner with Pelion to achieve this.
What excites and frightens you about IoT?
The inexorable rise in scale is both exciting and frightening: 25% growth in number of connected devices on the planet, every year, compounded forever. Already there are more IoT devices than smartphones, and we’ve only just got started. That has wonderful potential to address the challenges of our society, including in sustainability. But it also has the potential to create a dystopia, if our world is increasingly filled with devices that don’t work properly, or are insecure. We all need to work together to deliver IoT’s potential for good.
DevicePilot Service Monitoring for connected devices provides a single pane of glass for Product, Operations and Customer Support teams, driving up customer satisfaction and growth, while reducing operational costs.
Follow DevicePilot on LinkedIn or connect with Pilgrim Beat