Internet of Things and M2M – The Basics
The Internet of Things (IoT). Heard of it? This developing tech trend has an odd title and to belabor confusion, it’s been given a myriad of names. Cisco calls it the “Internet of Everything” and GE’s CEO, Jeff Immelt, coined the phrase “industrial internet.” Whatever you want to call it (but we will call it IoT), it is a new concept: Connecting “things” to the Internet, making the physical world a type of information system.
Of course many “things” are already connected to the Internet, like cars, thermostats, Blu-ray players, and smart TVs, but there’s more to come. One report says “things include billions of sensor-packed mobile devices, coffeemakers, cardiac monitors, cars, tires, roads, parking meters, supermarket shelves, cattle, thermostats, and skin, just to name a few.” And now they’re acquiring interactive capabilities: Things talk to other things, broadcast data, give and receive commands. With devices literally everywhere, the physical world is quickly becoming smart.
Here’s a common use-case.
It’s a typical work day and it’s snowing outside. Because of bad weather, your alarm clock and coffee machine are triggered 15 minutes early and your car heats up all by itself. On your way to work there is an accident en route but your car receives an immediate report suggesting a quicker, safer detour. A few hours later you leave work but not before your home refrigerator tells your mobile phone that you’re low on milk and eggs – So you stop by the grocery. You’re nearly home when your car automatically tells your thermostat to heat up the house, providing a comfortable arrival.
This is machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. Who wouldn’t want a workday to run so smoothly?
M2M is certainly impressive and it provides unlimited possibilities for consumer convenience. However, the scenario above is little more than handy. In the right hands, M2M technology provides business solutions for people looking to streamline and bring value to their business processes.
Every business has processes. Some are simple and some are complex. One small business might sell mobile phone cases at a kiosk in the local mall with a handful of employees. Another business manufactures those mobile phone cases, thousands at a time, and it hires hundreds of technicians and sales personnel working around the world and the clock. Despite their differences, both companies have needs and processes to fill those needs. Whether it be shipping, employee training, low/high inventory, customer traffic, good/bad sales locations, and advertising, M2M technology tailors custom solutions.
At decreasing costs, anything in your business can be wired with inexpensive devices to broadcast data to your people and other business “things.” And when businesses, both large and small, have access to real-time information concerning the condition, location, health, and status of their assets, the end-to-end process for every industry can be customized to maximize efficiency and productivity, increasing ROI. The sky’s the limit: Predictive maintenance reduces service cost. Live data provides relevant information for quick, intelligent decisions and improved CRM. Talking assets eliminate human error and downtime. With this type of connectivity businesses can monitor vehicle fleets, on-site personnel, campus security, customer trends, manufacturing equipment, and utility usage. Entire cities can monitor traffic, water, gas, and sewage pipelines. Retailers can monitor what’s being picked up and put back while providing customized POS. You name it, and M2M can monitor it.
Time and information equal money. M2M offers both, providing significant business value. Smart personal devices, such as coffee makers and alarm clocks, can certainly improve the flow of our personal lives but the real possibilities are found in business integration. Merging this trend is a business revolution and by integrating M2M cloud-platforms and technology, advanced solutions are possible for businesses in every industry.
M2M solutions make every asset a smart asset; every industry a smart industry.