The client: Trusted IoT security

Birthed as a joint venture involving the UK hardware colossus, arm, Trustonic develop cybersecurity technology for smart devices.

They’re especially active in the smartphone security space. Unsurprising; credit risk costs the telecoms industry around $14 billion per year, simple theft costs another $3.5 billion on top of that.

By providing integrated security, Trustonic adds incredible value for their partners in the world’s hottest mobile markets. In Southeast Asia, for example, a mobile penetration rate of 69% is expected by 2025. That’s nearly 465 million devices.

In these markets, where the microcredit industry is still developing, contract leasing carries a significant risk for the provider. Mobile companies need to be able to recoup the cost of the phone that has been amortized through the life of the contract. If a customer stops paying their bills, the provider needs to interact with individual phones from a central hub, updating each device’s status directly.

So, when you’ve got potentially hundreds of millions of fingerprinted devices to interact with… how do you find the right one? What does that central hub look like?

The challenge: One UI to rule them all

Without a solid user interface for customer service teams, locating specific devices would be torturous. Not so much like finding a needle in a haystack, more like finding one particular piece of hay… while a customer is sat there telling you to hurry up.

We were contacted to build that UI. One which could be white labelled for various network operators in different locations and presented in multiple languages.

This UI also had to look slick. Trustonic were keen to showcase their technology at an upcoming trade show in Barcelona. The clock was ticking to produce something which would capture the networks’ interest and satisfy their curiosity.

Designing, building, and polishing this thing could be approached in a number of ways. A lot of the product definition was still undecided when we came on board, calling for close collaboration with the hardware and database people at Trustonic.

The Fluent approach

The hardware and back end of this enormous system were actually being developed in tandem with our UI. In the earliest stages, we had to sit down together and define the limits of what was currently possible.

Beginning with a loose agreement of what a finished product might look like, we set to work. Normally, you hope the back end is running a little bit ahead of the front, you get a sense of direction to steer the project. Here, the condensed timeframe meant we’d be developing elements of the UI and hoping they’d fit with what the other teams were creating.

Weekly sprints gave us a nice tight feedback loop, nobody could go off on too much of a tangent without touching base with overall progress. Getting that agile process in place gave us as much space to breathe as possible. That’s vital when you’re still articulating what the product can do.

Coding our front end against a series of mock APIs let us mirror how conversations with customers might play out. It produced plenty of ‘aha!’ moments.

For example, what happens when a given policy is no longer current? We quickly realised the need to archive policies and migrate phones from one to another. Having those conversations, asking the right questions early, meant all the surprises happened before things went live.

This was very much a story of productising a powerful pre-existing technology to meet a market need. We honed in on the interactions between customer and customer service, hardware and database, creating a process and a product which both got the job done.

Outcome: Product and process

Trustonic got a UI which fits with their database, both in the first instance and then when it was time to expand into other markets. Once it was developed, a detailed handover process let them take full ownership.

With projects like this, you judge success by how little friction remains in the end user’s path. You’ve probably got a Trustonic chip in your own phone, but with systems like this making customer service faster and easier, you’ll never need to worry about it.

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