Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications have the power to fundamentally alter industries and the way we do business. But many organizations have yet to see a way to master the complexity and begin the transformation.
Mobeen Khan, Executive Director, Product Marketing, Advanced Mobility Solutions, AT&T Business Solutions suggests business sectors which might gainfully embrace m2M:
M2M solutions connect millions of diverse assets and related information to a network, enabling two-way communication. This connectivity enables remote monitoring and diagnostics, data collection, navigation, and remote control to gather intelligence about corporate assets and processes never before possible.
In the past, when telemetry was the province of scientists in such fields as aerospace,agriculture and wildlife conservation, highly specialised remote sensors would be installed to collect data and send it back via radio signal to a central machine for analysis. A transmitter could be attached to a spacecraft, weather balloon, or wild animal, for example. These are still possible, but now we can read tremendous amount of data, perform ad-hoc queries, and control the remote asset. This is especially possible as many of these modern assets are manufactured with some form of on-board controller or processor. Transmission can be done based on mobility and location of the assets, primarily through mobile networks, but also through or supplemented with WiFi, land-line, satellite or dedicated networks.
Today, M2M devices are much smaller, cheaper and more energy efficient, as well as more sensitive and accurate. Computers and software are faster and more powerful, so analytics is improved. Cloud-based applications are available to enable organizations to more easily and cost effectively implement and manage M2M deployments of the necessary scale and complexity. Most importantly, public wireless networks have expanded and are becoming ubiquitous, providing the means by which communications can be rapid, secure and cost-effective anywhere in the globe. Manufacturers of connected consumer and M2M devices have seamless access to a global platform for service management, application development, analytics, professional services and product support. The AT&T single worldwide SIM solution equips M2M and connected device service providers with the ability to manage global wireless device deployment and operations across markets with advanced diagnostic tools, smart process automation, and billing solutions.
According to The Global Wireless M2M Market report published by the analyst firm Berg Insight in April 2012, the number of mobile network connections used for wireless M2M communication increased by 37% in 2011 to reach 108 million. Asia-Pacific was identified as the strongest regional market, with year-on-year growth of 64% and 34.5 million connections by year-end. Globally, a 27% annual growth rate is predicted to deliver almost 360 million wireless M2M connections in 2016.
M2M in Action
With mobile communications now an integral part of the modern enterprise, executives are increasingly willing to explore M2M solutions as ways to gain competitive advantage. We are now seeing evidence of this in the variety of M2M applications being developed to meet the unique needs of different businesses. M2M solutions are used by shippers to track containers, trucks, and high-value or temperature-sensitive cargo; by car and equipment rental companies to locate, monitor and remotely lock or unlock vehicles; by utilities in smart meters and to monitor the electricity grid and isolate problems; by architects to create efficient smart buildings; by retailers to track and restock inventory; and by service providers to plan routing of client site calls.
M2M devices are being integrated into digital billboards, allowing changes based on time of day or day of week and enabling global updates to be performed from a central location. They are also being embedded into vehicles such as the Ford Focus Electric car to enable the owner to monitor and control vehicle charge settings, plan journeys, locate charging stations and pre-heat or cool the car. Automakers and other manufacturers are also making extensive use of M2M to monitor, control and connect complex systems that link individual machine components on the plant floor with advanced control systems and, ultimately, manufacturing or enterprise resource planning software.
M2M is now also becoming available to the air cargo sector. Asset-tracking solutions will operate globally to allow shippers and freight forwarders to monitor the location, temperature, security, and condition of cargo in transit.
Healthcare is another area of great potential, with M2M platforms being developed to support chronic disease management, general wellness and fitness, and to help the elderly who choose to remain living in their own homes. For example, AT&T is working with healthcare partners to support heart patients by enabling their doctors to receive real-time data from their cardiac monitors, quickly, easily and from anywhere. In addition, the pharmaceutical supply chain continues to evolve and will require greater M2M visibility of product being distributed around the world.
There is no doubt that M2M systems are complex, spanning many different technologies and posing considerable challenges in integration, connectivity and global deployment. AT&T and Wipro work together to provide customers with the expertise and technical support they need to get machines “talking,” speed up the delivery time, and lower the cost of application development and maintenance for M2M applications.
The critical backbone elements of the system, the wireless network, cloud and security are global and robust and able to ensure compatibility and interoperability, worldwide.
M2M solutions for businesses offer a transformative technology that can fundamentally redefine your business and elevate your competitiveness for the long term. Grasping this opportunity will mean taking the time for strategic thinking, involving representatives from across your business, as well as outside experts. When you re-examine your business processes, products and services through the lens of M2M, you will be able to quantify what is possible when current constraints are removed.
M2M solutions have the potential to extend the reach of your business, allowing you to capture information and control resources almost anywhere, to change processes within your organization and to develop enhanced customer services. There has never been a better time to explore the possibilities and gain a lasting competitive position in your industry.
July 5 2013
Berg Insight AB, “The Global Wireless M2M Market – 4th Edition”, April 2012 (Summary information retrieved from http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/2105588/the_global_wireless_m2m_market_4th_edition on 30.05.13)