On the road to pervasive intelligence
By Kishore Jethanandani
Machine-to-Machine (M2M), the tiny radio devices, sensors that feed bits of data
from activities of objects such as moving trucks, have a whole lot more value
when the data from each of them is aggregated to draw intelligence such as their
expected time of arrival and monitor, in real-time, variables like the temperature
in trucks carrying perishables.
The accident rates and corresponding insurance costs have been drastically
lowered with detailed monitoring of driving behavior and real-time feedback on
acceleration, brake use, maneuvers and turns. Studies undertaken by Trimble
show accident rates were lowered by 45% and corresponding insurance and
related costs cut by 50%.
A big picture view of vehicle and vessel movements all along the supply chain
uncovers opportunities for business gains that would otherwise be not available.
Portvision, for example, gained visibility into the movement of vessels by taking
advantage of the AIS (Automated Identification System) which is otherwise used
for collision avoidance by the Coast Guard. The data can tell, in real time, when
the vessel is close enough to the shore to benefit from switching to cellular
communications. Ships tend to spend a great deal of time close to the shore,
before the cargo is unloaded, and can significantly lower the use of the more
expensive satellite communications. The expanded data of arrivals and departures
of vessels can be used for other purposes such as logistics management for trucks
and inventory management by customers as they get real-time data on expected
time of arrival for trucks.
Telecom carriers, specialist M2M solution providers, strategic alliances and M2M
marketplaces are coming together to interconnect sensors, devices and networks
so that the data can flow seamlessly to central databases where it can be parsed
for information. A global alliance of KPN, NTT DoCoMo, Rogers Communications,
SingTel, Telefónica, through its Telefónica Digital unit, Telstra, and Vimpelcom will
use a distinctive SIM card, a common web interface and will centrally manage
M2M devices. They will all collaborate with Jasper Wireless to manage the M2M
network. Verizon acquired Hughes Telematics in June 2012 for its fleet
management solutions. Orange acquired Data and Mobile in January 2012 for its
fleet management software. Masternaut entered into a strategic alliance with
Telefonica for joint marketing of M2M and related fleet management solutions.
Deutsche Telecom created a global M2M marketplace where the thousands of
vendors could find selling opportunities and for customers to do comparison
Transportation and Logistics leads as the target market by Communication Service
Providers for their M2M services. A survey conducted by Informa found that 52%
of the carriers are targeting this industry.
Real-time M2M powered fleet management enables new services, cuts costs and
speeds up regulatory compliance. In times of disasters or just adverse weather,
vehicles can be lost in accidents, stranded or rerouted. Software, such as that
available from Agile Access Control, provides data on the status of fleets in real-
time to make alternative plans.
Trust was important for compliance with hours-of-service requirements for
drivers and was prone to errors and omissions as it was largely documented
manually. With M2M enabled fleet management software like Qualcomm’s hours
of service application, tracking of hours of service is automated.
FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) governed rules require
drivers to a daily DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report) and its submission to
headquarters to detect any maintenance or safety issues. With M2M enabled
software like Cadec Global, the tedium is cut and processing of the data happens
continually in real-time.
The Marriage of M2M and Platforms Breeds Services
By Kishore Jethanandani
M2M and its evolved version--Internet of Things/Everything—is beginning to scale
aided by application enablement and related platforms. Early adoption was
confined to a few use cases of remote monitoring that had limited interest.
The recent evolution of M2M is reflected in applications for vending machines
which accounted for most of the investment in the past. Sensors embedded in
vending machines were used for isolating counterfeit dollar bills during
purchases. Deutsche Telecom’s machine-to-machine communications added
refilling capabilities for vending machines--inventory levels are automatically
reported to vendors’ computers when stocks deplete. Internet of
Things/Everything (IOT/E) augments the value of vending machines as
applications, such as SAP Hana’s mobile payments and offers based on past
purchase history, proliferate.
Isolated sensor-based use cases are hard to scale and have been financially
unattractive to carriers. The ARPUs are low for M2M ranging from $1.5 per month
for networks and services in the retail industry to a high of $5 for networks and
$48.9 for services in the healthcare industry. For most industries, they are less
than $10 per month for networks and services. By contrast, the Average Revenue
per Connection for mobile devices is $45 per month and the Average Revenue per
User is $69 per month. M2M, IOT and IOE will be an attractive business for
carriers when multiple devices and services, the long-tail of applications, are
served by a common infrastructure of networks and platforms.
Application Enablement Platforms (AEP) have the toolset, with the common
objects of code used for a broad range of applications, to rapidly generate new
applications for revenue generation all working within an integrated network of
devices. Fragmentation in the M2M world is of a higher order of magnitude due
to a variety of embedded platforms, programming languages, connection types
whether Bluetooth, WiFi, radio or cellular, and communication protocols. AEPs
play a role in the integration along with M2M connectivity platforms.
AT&T, for example, is partnering with Axeda to churn out applications for
automation in several verticals. In the past, equipment in factories was monitored
by sensors to detect an impending breakdown. Now M2M applications
automatically order parts, send alerts, and schedule an appointment for a
technician to attend to the maintenance of the equipment.
Some platforms go beyond providing a framework for generating applications for
a vertical and build components for development of applications across a variety
of industries. Cumulocity is one platform that builds cross-industry applications.
Data feeds from smart meters, for example, can be used not only by the utility
industry but could have other uses such as the management of appliances.
Jones Lang Lasalle, a commercial property management company, integrated the
disparate building management systems that came with its numerous
acquisitions. Its partnership with Intellicommand, an M2M platform company,
helped to interlink BACNet, LonWorks, Modbus that were used for remotely
controlling heating, ventilation and air-conditioning as well as equipment such as
chillers and boilers. The controls help to track energy consumption and failing
equipment that might lead to a breakdown. Energy savings of twenty four percent
were realized in eleven months in just one site.
The numerous data feeds from M2M open new possibilities, for applications
development, as they can be mashed to create new services. Application
platforms are helping to break down the boundaries that kept the data streams
apart and are fusing them to generate new applications and services. Sensors are
able to read every event, activity, beat that occurs on this earth. The possibilities
of applications development are enormous if the daunting challenges of
integration are overcome.
M2M is taproot for Cloud watered enterprise applications
By Kishore Jethanandani
Cloud platforms are helping to bridge the world of dispersed and pervasive
sensing devices or machines and centralized enterprise application platforms.
Enterprises have a virtual view of their assets anywhere on their control screens
to help them respond to customers and partners.
Mobile service providers can now wirelessly stream sensor and machine data to
enterprise applications enabling cloud platforms of companies like Axeda,
Devicewise, Gemalto or Eurotech. Machine vendors can remotely monitor the
status of equipment installed by them and conduct diagnostics and maintenance,
at a moment’s notice, without waiting for field staff or customer contacts to be
available. To be sure, the full benefits of remote control of assets are contingent
on resolving data quality issues of M2M integration with cloud platforms.
EMC’s Isilon integrated its internal Salesforce application with the Axeda’s
machine cloud. Isilon’s customer support application, Support IQ, appears as a
button on Salesforce application and can remotely activate the diagnostic routine
on storage arrays at customer sites. A great deal of time is saved because EMC
does not have to wait for its contacts on customer premises to arrive to help
them with diagnosis of incidents that need their support. The relevant data on
configuration of the storage arrays is stored on the Salesforce application.
The applications built on the cloud platforms generate a growing choice of
services. New services are generated by meshing several streams of data from
sensor devices. A typical service is the twittering ferries developed by Eurotech.
The data from the GPS of ferries estimates data on speed and automatically sends
tweets informing passengers about their arrival and departure time.
Clients of M2M solutions are able to increase productivity with automated
business processes. Diebold reduced a great deal of downtime with automatic
software upgrades. The time lost on downtime in maintenance of ATM terminals
was lowered with automated status updates of machine performance and
predicting failures before an outage happens. The diagnosis of problem situations
is completed before the visits of field staff. The technicians go prepared with the
right tools, accessories and information avoiding the multiple visits that were
common in the past.
Carriers are well positioned to be the intermediaries between the several
partners, enterprise customers, vendors of devices, platforms and software
developers, and cloud services providers and deliver a composite service. They
will potentially gain more from ensuring quality of service, enhancing user
experience by designing the portals and the user interfaces for self-service. Their
current role is largely as a communication pipe but they are expected to expand;
the share of revenues from professional services, service management and
analytics is expected to more than double by 2015.
Carriers’ choice of technologies will make a key difference to the profitability of
M2M applications. The revenue earned from individual sensors and devices is low
and costs are high. The costs can be lowered with the use of local gateways and
middleware to reduce administrative costs.
Carriers will have to think anew about their strategy towards using M2M data
feeds and the applications that can be generated with help from applications
enabling cloud platforms. In contrast to the mass delivery of generic services like
internet access, they will need the skills of consultants and system integrators on
the operations side and marketing skills of consumer companies for customer