|Issue:||Europe II 2013|
|Topic:||Business intelligence with M2M|
|Title:||Vice President, EMEA and LAM Sales|
Martin Poppelaars is the Vice President, EMEA and LAM Sales at Lantronix; he is responsible for the strategy and planning of sales activities in the European, Middle Eastern, African and Latin American markets. Prior to this role, Mr Poppelaars served as Director EMEA Sales and earlier as a Sales Manager with Lantronix. At Red Band Venco B.V., Mr Poppelaars worked as an Inside Sales Representative
Martin Poppelaars completed the upper secondary vocational education in Business and Administration and graduated NIMA-A from the Dutch Marketing Institute.
Most equipment used by businesses, industries and individuals operate as stand-alone devices that cannot be accessed or managed over a network or the Internet. M2M promotes an environment where devices connected through the Internet can share virtually any type of information. This also provides an incredible amount of information that if ‘mined’ or ‘harvested’ could fundamentally change the way companies and individuals conduct business. The promise of M2M is getting information to the right place at the right time.
Despite the unprecedented level of communication and data collaboration, there are billions of pieces of equipment in virtually every business sector from inventory management and point-of-sale equipment to physical security and facilities management systems that operate as stand-alone devices, that cannot be accessed or controlled over a network or the Internet. Most businesses could benefit significantly by adding network intelligence to those products. In today’s marketplace, organisations need up-to-the-minute, relevant, and accurate business intelligence that improves operations and the bottom line.
The challenge for businesses with non-networked equipment lies in finding an effective, affordable, way to generate and capture data from machines. Currently, solutions built on open networking technology standards that are prevailing. Conversely, Forrester identified rigid architectures and proprietary interfaces as factors that ‘limit interoperability and cramp collaboration’. All agree, however, that suppliers of non- networked legacy devices are not only unable to participate in bids for new installations, but risk losing their loyal customer base to competitors who can provide more modern equipment with networking capabilities.
Fortunately, the advent of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications coupled with advances in device-networking technology now provide a way to connect almost any peripheral device to a network or the Internet. By connecting isolated devices, one can access, evaluate, share, and interactively utilise data from these individual pieces of equipment in real time. It also means that managers can monitor, diagnose, and control devices and their performance from any location at any time.
Device networking is the technology that makes M2M possible. It enables devices throughout a facility to communicate over a local area network/wide area network (LAN/WAN) or the Internet and be accessible from any computer on the ‘net’.
With M2M enabled devices, networking technology streamlines operations, maximises efficiency, reduces overhead, and improves service. Adding networking capability to previously isolated devices makes them ‘future-ready’, increases their functionality, extends their useful life and accelerates their return on investment (ROI).M2M also makes ‘predictive maintenance’ a reality, preventing downtime by using automated alerts and self-healing technology.
In the 1980s, the demand for a personalised computing environment gave rise to the rapid proliferation of personal computers (PCs) in the workplace. In the 1990s, cost- effective networks and open systems drove the connection of PCs to corporate networks. This ushered in a new era of information availability, an explosion in personal productivity and, as well, the beginning of person-to-person Internet connectivity.
The PC focused largely on making people more productive in the office and field. The technology focused on facilitating the interactions between people. We have now passed to the next revolution – one focused on machines communicating with other machines and with people. The basic issues now are how best to manage networked machines and how to productively process and make use of the information M2M generates and collects. M2M will connect a huge variety of things from simple sensors to highly complex building and industrial automation equipment, from medical devices to tracking equipment on trucks, to security systems, retail/POS equipment, IT/telecom, A/V equipment, power/utilities and more.
M2M promotes an environment where different types of devices connected through the Internet can share virtually any type of information. The seamless automated flow of data facilitates services and allows remote management and device control. Because M2M data can be captured from practically any machine, environment or market, M2M can potentially reshuffle entire industries, creating a windfall for technology enablers by making possible an array of solutions that deliver new levels of ‘smart services’.
The stakes in the M2M sector are enormous. Some estimate that nearly 50 billion devices around the world can benefit from M2M communications. That figure is nearly ten times the number of people on Earth. According to ABI Research1, M2M is attracting intense interest as businesses and equipment manufacturers begin to understand the multi-billion dollar potential they represent. By the end of the decade, analysts expect the M2M market will increase by a staggering 40 per cent annually. Given the scale and scope of M2M opportunities, companies are beginning to position themselves for wide-scale adoption.
M2M is also leading to significant opportunities for technology companies. By network-enabling their products, equipment makers can now offer unprecedented levels of customer service and support at a fraction of the cost required for non- networked devices. With the ability to maintain a continuous tap into a device’s data stream, companies can now track and service a device through its entire lifecycle. This technology is redefining the scope of customer relationships and business operations, where companies can ensure better and more appropriate service to customers by anticipating and responding to problems as, or even before, they arise. Some of the most innovative companies have discovered new revenue-generating opportunities by connecting to their devices. In all, M2M has the potential to unleash great productivity gains and economic growth.
Companies are looking beyond the opportunities arising from product sales and aiming to capitalise on the benefits of finally owning customer relationships. By tracking a device through its lifetime, a company can acquire significant data and insight not only into its product’s performance in circumstances, but also into the customer’s needs and behaviours. This information can yield optimised services and solutions for customers, significant profits for suppliers, and improved relationships between companies and their customers.
M2M is poised to unleash a wave of productivity and efficiency and trigger great increases in corporate investment. Companies can make significant gains selling the hardware, software and services that will keep the M2M world running. Device manufacturers and service providers will profit from the ability to proactively track devices, keep them up and running, and offer better customer service in a highly competitive market. End users will benefit from having products and devices that are always accessible and functioning properly.
Combining M2M technology with device networking adds an unprecedented level of operational intelligence to business, helping to reduce maintenance costs and open opportunities for additional revenue streams. For equipment repairs, a customer typically has to contact a call centre where an attendant takes the call, logs it into a database, sends it to the service centre, which deploys a technician with the correct parts and equipment. With M2M, device server detects a problem automatically and, often, remotely diagnoses and repairs it. If a service call is required, the technician leaves knowing exactly what is wrong and equipped with the proper parts and equipment to fix the problem.
Reducing truck rolls and costs
This new level of intelligence and control delivers a wide range of tangible benefits. For example, imagine an electronic device for a security system, commercial refrigeration unit, or medical diagnostic equipment with technology for self-diagnosis and self-healing. When connected to a networking the equipment can verify if it is functioning properly. Often, if something is wrong, a simple setting or switch adjustment might be all that is required – diagnosing and correcting problems over the network often eliminates the need for a service call to resolve a trivial issue.
This sort of technology can:
• Resolve equipment failures before they happen, saving time and money with proactive maintenance;
• Eliminate unnecessary service calls;
• Alert technicians before they leave the service centre regarding exactly what the problem is and the equipment and parts needed to fix the problem.
• Let technicians at a service centre determine the status and operating conditions of remote equipment located anywhere in the world.
• Increase customer satisfaction and generate additional revenue through up-sale marketing offering remotely managed, value-added field service.
The numbers are staggering, regardless of source. Berg Insight reports the total number of M2M wireless device connections will soar to 359.3 million in 2016. Shipments of mobile M2M devices increased 35.3 per cent in 2011 to 50.8 million units. Adjusted for churn, there were 29.3 million M2M connections net added in 2011. Ericsson has repeatedly cited a number of ‘50 billion devices in market, ready to be connected’.
Network connectivity itself is expanding with new technologies such as IEEE 802.11n, which enhances safety with improved security protocols and by lower cost network access. As a result, more devices are connecting via the Internet and reaping the rewards of M2M communications.
While it’s exciting to think about futuristic M2M consumer applications, the business opportunities for M2M are staggering. For example, hospitals can now connect infusion pumps to the network, so they can send information to the hospital’s IT system and check pharmaceutical information to validate the dosage levels for the given patient. In industrial applications, a technician might check the status of a robotic welding machine no matter where in the world it is located.
There is an incredible amount of information that if ‘mined’ or ‘harvested’ could fundamentally change the way companies and individuals conduct business. This is the basic promise of M2M – getting the information to the right place at the right time.