Wireless M2M Communication – New Opportunities

screen_shot_2015-10-05_at_11_29_23_am

 

 

 

 

M2M technology most certainly has arrived.

Wireless networks now deliver reliable, affordable, secure Internet access all over the globe. With the advent 4G LTE networks, the enterprise can access a consistent, high bandwidth connection, but without the on-site network requirements, setup, or ongoing maintenance of traditional infrastructure. While the collective global electricity grid serves approximately 80% of the world’s population, the wireless “grid” now already reaches 85% of the world’s population—and that reach continues to expand.

This spells major opportunities to connect with customers, clients, and users. Any event or gathering can offer ATM services, kiosks can be placed anywhere there is a cell signal on an independent network, construction sites can stream video surveillance, retailers can display intelligent signage (including streamed video) to communicate instantly with customers, and public transportation agencies can provide wireless Internet connections for commuters. 4G is approximately 10 times faster than 3G and is quickly becoming the standard across the globe.

By obsoleting the need to set up a WiFi network or pull cables for an Ethernet LAN based network, the cost of the technology has dropped. With easier deployments and maintenance, the distributed enterprise reduces IT and component maintenance costs as well. With devices getting smaller by the day, it is now feasible to embed network connectivity into almost any customer application.

TRENDS

The industry is buzzing with the magnitude of possibilities, with estimations in the trillions, based on the number of potential connected devices, whether machines or mobile phones. The technology’s potential have been widely cited:

  • Wireless traffic will exceed traffic from wired devices.
  • The number of Internet connected devices will be double the number of people on the planet. More than half of those are expected to connect wirelessly.
  • The average mobile network connection speed will grow and will exceed 2.9 Mbps in 2016.
  • There will be over 10 billion mobile connected devices in 2016.

Wireless networks have worked tirelessly at covering more area, yet wireless voice revenues are falling. Understanding the simple truth that the predominant use for wireless is no longer the basic phone call; many network providers are now focusing on M2M applications as they seek higher revenue margins and lower customer churn.

Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, M2M Communication – New Technologies on the Move

screen_shot_2015-10-05_at_10_15_29_am

The 4th industrial revolution is being driven by new technologies that allow seamless connectivity of multiple IoT devices with machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. This integration of intelligent devices within the Internet of Things has revolutionized the way many companies operate by reducing costs and improving accuracy through automating communications between central systems and remote devices, and eliminating the need for regular human intervention.

Smart Networking
After mechanization, electrification and digitalization of everyday processes, now we are seeing the next stage of development: “smart” networking. In this context “smart” means intelligent, decentralized, real-time capable and self-optimizing devices. Above all, production and logistics industries will merge their information technologies with Internet-connected devices to allow businesses to gather detailed information about their operations in real time, enabling them to make decisions that can benefit the bottom line.

M2M (Machine to Machine)
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology is poised to reshape every aspect of the business landscape: operational efficiency, quality control, decision-making, relationships with customers, and transactional opportunities are enabled and enhanced by M2M applications. Access to real-time, actionable data can make organizations smarter, more nimble, allow them to better manage resources, protect assets, deploy intelligent e-business applications, and quickly respond to rapidly changing conditions. The promise of M2M is that with the right intelligence, delivered in real time and used appropriately, services can be offered and tailored to customers in ways that were never before possible. Resources can be monitored and utilized more efficiently. Operational costs can be reduced. Paired with smart systems, M2M can even use data to automatically trigger and carry out decisions that serve the business’s objectives, often times even faster and more efficiently than employees could.

IoT (Internet of Things)
The “Internet of Things” is a phrase describing the technological trend of integrating computers as intelligent devices in electronic equipment and systems, allowing for communication capability via the Internet. Even simple everyday objects can interact with each other and make apartments and homes “smarter”. With a countless (and rapidly growing) array of devices communicating with other devices across the Internet, the Internet is no longer simply a network of computers but rather what’s commonly referred to as the “Internet of Things.” These IoT devices, which have easily surpassed a billion worldwide and are expected to be at least one-third of all connected devices this year, include point of sale (POS) systems, video surveillance, smart meters, digital signs and kiosks, ATMs, and medical monitoring devices.

Industry 4.0
The 4th industrial revolution is the phrase coined to describe the seamless connectivity of multiple IoT devices with machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The goal is to establish intelligent factories (Smart Factories) that utilize their resources most efficiently, are highly flexible and ergonomic whilst at the same time allowing for customer and business partner involvment both in the production and in other value-add processes. This computerization of manufacturing technology allows companies of the future an increasingly lean, decentralized and flexible production planning and control. Taking data and purposefully integrating it into enterprise systems—the basic function of M2M—has transformed the construction, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and retail industries. We are indeed at the beginning of the 4th Industrial Revoliution.

IoT – What Drives Customer Satisfaction

A bold prediction: Over the next five years, a number of companies will use Internet of Things technologies to vault past competitors and become irreplaceable to customers. Expect this especially to be the case for companies that sell high-price products and services to customers whose lives and livelihoods depend on such offerings. Think about patients on life-saving medical equipment in their homes. Or construction machinery that needs to work every day on the construction site. Digital sensors that continually report on the condition of such equipment and reduce downtime will become vital cogs in the economy.

However; many more companies will come up empty-handed after investing hundreds of millions in IoT technology. The main reason won’t be that they lacked the technical skills to make the technology work. Instead, it will be that they had the wrong IoT strategy. That is, they will have used IoT technology to collect field information that didn’t greatly improve customer satisfaction. In amassing the haystacks of field information that the IoT allows businesses to collect, these firms didn’t identify the few needles they needed most.

Said another way, they managed their IoT initiatives from a technology- and data-push standpoint – not from a strategic, “here’s the information the top of the company needs the most” aspect to keep their firms competitive.

Sensors, embedded software and other technologies that companies are installing in their products are starting to throw off enormous volumes of digital data. That means companies will be collecting petabytes of data. So how can companies like these make sure they’ve identified the needles in their data and they aren’t lost in the haystacks? It requires shifting the traditional role of the CIO and the IT architect from managing technology to managing information. And that, in turn, will require IT executives to help the CEO and the rest of the top management team answer three fundamental questions:

  1. What information does the Internet of Things enable our company to collect about our business that wasn’t available before? That is, now that we can gather information about the status of our products in the field as customers are using them, exactly what information is possible to gather that we never conceived of gathering in the past?
  2. Of the field information that we can now (or soon will be able to) collect through the IoT, exactly which performance data is most critical to keeping our customers satisfied?
  3. What actions will we be able to take rapidly on the most critical customer performance data, and how would it differentiate our business against competitors? (This is where ERP systems like SAP come into play, which I discussed in my previous post.)

But just because we can track all kinds of things about our products and services in the field doesn’t mean we should. If we do, we will soon find ourselves searching for the needle in the haystacks. And that’s not a place you want to be with the IoT.