Vodafone Business bets big on the Internet of Things
Working with partners like Oracle, Vodafone Business connects millions of devices across the world.
“Oracle is a global player, known for scalable solutions. Like us, it has a very large business footprint and long relationships with customers in almost every industry. It’s also a pioneer in data and databases. It makes sense to use Oracle to support billing and revenue management, which depends on information that is timely and transparent.”
Scaling to millions of connections
Vodafone Business connects a whole lot more than phones these days—about 120 million other things, in fact. While the UK-based company is Europe’s largest mobile and fixed telecommunications network operator, it’s also the largest global provider of managed Internet of Things connectivity services. From connected factories to cars making emergency automatic calls after an accident to electricity meters reporting on usage, Vodafone Business links IoT devices in more than 180 countries and over 570 networks.
The company delivers high-quality Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity via satellite, 5G, 4G and 2G, along with low power, wide area (LPWA) networks. Vodafone Business also provides digital solutions across industries, including asset tracking, remote monitoring, and fully automated 5G factories.
As it added more IoT customers, and as the organization transformed itself from a telecom operator to a full-service technology communications leader, Vodafone Business needed an efficient, scalable way to manage revenue.
Teaming up with Oracle
Vodafone Business had previously worked with Oracle to develop technologies supporting its Internet of Things (IoT) global data service platform (GDSP), which lets customers easily manage their IoT deployments globally.
For instance, through a self-service dashboard, a car manufacturer can track inventory and usage anywhere in the world. These services need to be charged—accurately, transparently, and securely. To make this possible, Vodafone Business tapped Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management, a cloud-native billing suite with the extreme scalability the communications giant needs.
Oracle’s billing application lets Vodafone Business easily manage revenue per device. The company currently supports 2 million customer transactions per month, processes over 1 billion usage events per day, and more than 123 million total devices, including 25 million in automotive alone. And Vodafone Business is only getting started. Its IoT connections are growing by 22% annually, and its recent IoT Spotlight revealed that 87% of IoT global adopters think IoT is vital to their future success.
Along with scalability, security is a must for billing and revenue systems, especially when it comes to IoT. Internet of Things Director Erik Brenneis cites the example of a connected car: “The systems must be designed securely throughout the chain—from the application, which is hosted in the cloud, through the communications lines, all the way to a device with built-in security authentication,” he says. “That’s why security has always been top of mind for us and why it’s important to have partners like Oracle that share our security-first approach.”
Building the future of ‘wow’
Vodafone Business connects devices in all major industries. Car brands use its highly reliable IoT platform for everything from automated maintenance scheduling to remote parking. Insurance companies monitor driving behavior to determine rates, while financial services firms offer wireless credit card readers to make payments fast and easy.
Vodafone Business IoT solutions have also helped battle COVID-19. Connected heat cameras help monitor people with high temperatures. At the Italian amusement park Gardaland, employees wear wrist bands that alert them when visitors violate social distancing rules. When visitors come within 1.5 meters of employees, they’re reminded to keep a safe distance from anyone outside their group. And all around the world, sensors monitor COVID vaccines that require cold storage, making sure the doses will still be effective when they reach people’s arms.
“I think what really wows people is that IoT applies to everything these days,” Brenneis says. “When cars make emergency calls after an accident, lives are saved. When commercial trucks automatically take the most efficient routes, that saves a lot of Co2. IoT connects many things people aren’t even aware of.”
With the expansion of 5G wireless broadband, the future is mind-blowing. For example, virtual reality applications will power high-tech glasses that give instructions to workers in complex fields such as airplane maintenance. “There won’t be thick manuals that you have to pore through to find parts numbers,” he says. “Everything will be digitized.”
With the IoT market becoming more complex by the day, successful companies will need an ecosystem of capable partners. “Oracle has proven credentials, and we hope to use their expertise beyond billing and revenue management,” Brenneis says. “As we move into the future, we’ll explore how to co-create other scalable platforms. Exactly what remains to be seen. It’s all very exciting.”