By Matt Hatton, Founding Partner, Transforma Insights.
New Position Paper from Transforma Insights provides a new taxonomy of the Connectivity Management Platform landscape, based on enriched offerings from market leaders such as Cisco, Ericsson and floLIVE.
If we look back 3-5 years the Connectivity Management Platform (CMP) space was relatively stable. The functionality included within CMPs was well-established with not too much evolution, and the market landscape was well defined, being dominated by two large players. However, it is in a period of change.
CMPs add new functionality to differentiate
One way in which the CMP space is changing is the addition of rich new forms of functionality. The basic functions of SIM management, such as activate/deactivate/suspend and billing are baseline functionality for a CMP, along with a dashboard user interface and APIs. Every CMP has that. Today CMPs are seeking to differentiate based on other capabilities. Cisco, for instance, talks now about ‘IoT-as-a-Service’ rather than CMP, reflecting that its portfolio is now wider.
Transforma Insights agrees. The range of features and functionality that might now be included in a CMP offering goes way beyond just those baseline features mentioned above. As a result of the addition of these richer features we need to think about our market segmentation. There have always been differences between the levels of functionality offered by the various platforms, but this has become increasingly pronounced. The Transforma Insights view is that the CMP space ought to be segmented, broadly speaking between ‘Thin’ CMP vendors where the focus is on the core CMP and ‘Thick’ CMP vendors which offer a range of additional services that are adjacent to the baseline capabilities.
What is a ‘Thick’ CMP?
The additional functionality provided by these ‘Thick’ CMP vendors is as follows:
- Advanced analytics – There is a range of analytics functionality for churn prediction, root-cause analysis, anomaly detection and other operations that will be increasingly a differentiator. Most CMPs include some element of analytics, so this is not limited solely to ‘Thick’ platforms, but the sophistication often varies dramatically.
- Core network – Many operate their own core network functions giving much greater control over connections, data flows and billing, and making the CMP function more transparent and real-time.
- eSIM subscription management – It is now almost impossible to talk about cellular-based IoT connectivity without considering remote SIM provisioning. The more sophisticated CMPs now also include access to SM-SR/DP and/or SM-DP+.
- Global connectivity orchestration – As an overlay on providing the eSIM/RSP infrastructure, CMPs can also act as an orchestrator of multi-country connectivity propositions from operators on their platform, not necessarily contracting with the enterprise, but providing the frameworks for this to happen.
Figure 1: Connectivity Management Platform variants [Source: Transforma Insights, 2023]
Not all CMPs are equal. A ‘Thin’ CMP may be perfectly adequate for an operator’s needs, particularly if it’s cheaper (it almost certainly will be). We think the 80/20 rule applies quite well with CMPs: 80% of customers will probably only demand the 20% of features that are included within the ‘Thin’ CMP. But those customers tend to represent the long-tail, whereas the more demanding will account for the bulk of connections and probably the bulk of value. Many operators will favour having a richer set of features and functionality particularly for addressing more demanding (and valuable) customers such as car manufacturers.
What about providing connectivity?
We might also include in this list the provision of managed connectivity. In the past, the two leading CMP vendors, Cisco and Ericsson, have at various points toyed with the idea of directly addressing the enterprise with a connectivity offering, but have been dissuaded of the wisdom of that approach by their operator clients (sometimes in very strong terms). However, for many of the other connectivity providers considered in this report, the operation of a multi-tenanted CMP and the direct pursuit of enterprise customers is seen as being perfectly appropriate, particularly as many of the new competitors in the CMP market emanate from MVNOs/MVNEs. Those with MVNO operations, such as emnify, Eseye and floLIVE, for instance, combine both roles, and in some cases would see the two aspects as being inseparable.