Each Monday SAP’s Mobility Global Center of Excellence hosts a “Mobility Monday” discussion. These feature prominent SAP experts who discuss current topics and mobile market trends. This week’s topic was “Welcome to the Age of a Connected World – The Rise of the Machines” with Benjamin Wesson, Vice President of SAP’s M2M Technology Solution Management.
In other words, it was about machine to machine (M2M) technology.
Why? We are going through a massive technological shift, specifically in “pervasive computing, ambient sensing, mobility, and ubiquitous connectivity,” according to SAP’s Mobility team. As a result, the way we interact with the world around us is changing.
M2M technology isn’t totally new; it’s a trend that’s been growing since 2003. What is it? Put by Benjamin, “it is the connectedness between an asset in the field and a system, in the cloud perhaps, but is also about interaction between people and those systems they’re governing.”
M2M presents an incredible opportunity to companies like SAP and others involved in mobility. All of these “things” going on must be managed one way or the other. Especially with the Internet of Things becoming less idealistic and more practical, there truly is no limit to what we can connect and the data we can retrieve from these interconnected devices.
“What’s exciting is that this opportunity exists almost cross every industry out there,” said Benjamin. He also shared his excitement about what he called the “Wild West”. So many industries make use of many of these “smart meters” or “POS Terminals”. These machines generate massive amounts of data each day. This data can either be just for the company to use, or can be used to create offers for customers that are specific to them.
2 Key Drivers That Are Making M2M Technology Mainstream
Things like sensors and a smaller and cheaper end-to-end market makes it practical to put these sensors in any device or thing. Benjamin shares up the example of putting a sensor in a light bulb that would allow say the manufacture to monitor the lifecycle remotely. This monitoring would allow the company to find the bulb’s weaknesses, or time to burn out, and in turn create a better product for the consumer.
Wireless ubiquity is the second driver Benjamin mentions. Previously, M2M only functioned if the fixed asset, like a car, had a power source strong enough to transmit the data the distance it needed to travel. Today, wireless connectivity is growing and it’s going global. This in turn allows the transceivers to only require a fraction of the power and travel even farther.
So What Are the Challenges?
When the technology was first used, the data was never shared. This, according to Benjamin, “is a huge missed opportunity”. Opportunities like combining patient data with safe driving habits to create a total picture of the driver behind the wheel.
Also, because of the growth that occurred in “stovepipes” Benjamin says, “we aren’t able to see the entire picture of the customer and because of the stove pipes we may be jumping to the wrong conclusion.”
So What’s Next for M2M?
I had the opportunity to ask Benjamin what he feels will be the three key areas that M2M will have the biggest impact and this is what he shared:
Smart Vending is where M2M technology helps manufacturers and users monitor inventory, sales statistics, and maintenance issues that may arise.
Smart Energy. Where as a result of using technology to reduce energy use, limit waste, and increase efficiency in energy.
Smart Cities, where the city is “connected” by smart grids, meters, that monitor infrastructure such as electricity and water supply.
Overall, there is not limit to where M2M can go, but I am interested to see how it impacts the three areas Benjamin mentioned.