10 billion devices are connected to the Internet today… By 2020 there will be 50 billion. According to Gartner, M2M is set to revolutionize every single business process and every value chain. For IDC, M2M is the « next big opportunity ». What if you could leverage it to boost your operations, your value added services and your revenues ?
With new generation M2M platforms, put the Internet of Things at the heart of your innovation strategies. The benefit: flexible alignment with new business challenges, the mastery of Big Data and the development of ‘as a service’ appstores.
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Interview with Malo Jennequin and Jean-Charles Massé, M2M experts at Bull
IDC sees M2M as the ‘Next Big Opportunity’. What are the main issues?
Having connected computers and then individuals with each other, the Internet is embarking on its third revolution: connecting all devices so that they become ‘intelligent’, communicating and interacting with each other. This intelligence should be capable of evolving dynamically, to support the introduction of new ways of using the technology. We call this M2M, or Machine to Machine, and it foreshadows revolutions in all sectors of the economy: energy (smart meters…), transport (traffic flow optimization…), logistics (freight tracking…), healthcare (personal services…), home automation (intelligent digital homes…), commerce (NFC-style contactless payment…) and even leisure activities (with early examples including the Nabaztag WiFi-enabled digital pet rabbit).
The applications involved are very practical, sometimes even quite basic. For example, a drinks vending machine could be able to detect whether it is running out of stock and trigger a restocking order all by itself. So the technician only comes out if really necessary and the cost of running the machines falls. Another very basic example is waste collection, which could be billed to households according to the weight of rubbish they place into a ‘smart’ bin; the dustcart would transmit the information to a central server, which would consolidate the data for each household and generate the appropriate bill. This would mean that the waste collection company could differentiate itself by developing billing according to actual usage, and each household would be encouraged to produce less waste with a view to sustainable development…
There is an almost infinite number of these kinds of applications. So it’s not surprising that IDC sees M2M as the ‘Next Big Opportunity’.
What makes a successful M2M project?
M2M offers many benefits, but it also poses lots of technical challenges: connectivity, security, end-to-end service quality, integration with business information systems (configuration, planning, supervision and operation of the technical infrastructure, Web-based user portals, billing and payment mechanisms, business intelligence, partner management…). But over and above the technical issues, the biggest challenge is a business one: how to get added value and generate revenue from services. It’s an area we have been pioneering, given our expertise in telecoms. And we have learnt how to effectively manage millions of communicating devices and objects. Our vision means we can take a flexible approach to M2M solutions, which are currently at something of a crossroads. There are many players in the market and many legacy solutions operating in silos. Because it is so agile, Bull can deliver innovative, industrial-scale resources (such as Numergy) to break down the technical and cost barriers to adopting M2M.
So what will this new generation of M2M solutions consist of?
The real challenges of this sector are innovation and revenue generation. How do you establish new value chains, create new and innovative services, and make money from them…? Flexibility is absolutely vital here, because you have to understand how to prepare right now for changes in the future that we still don’t know anything about: new ecosystems, new business app stores… So the aim is to make the right choices of architecture and technologies that combine the essential qualities of adaptability, scalability, robustness, services quality and security. To achieve this, new M2M solutions that are both secure and open are starting to appear. They allow you to manage the entire life cycle of connected devices, automatically, end to end: activation, monitoring and updating of devices in use, integration with telecoms operators, gathering of usage data… They also provide interfaces and open APIs so they can interaction with partners’ information systems. For our customers, this means they can boost their operations with a view to creating new value-added services and new sources of revenue. Our whole motivation is to make M2M work for the business. We are already supporting many customers with sensitive projects in areas a diverse as energy, water, telecoms, media, transport and the environment. Together, we are making a very real and practical contribution to the transformation towards a more agile economy that is closer to its users and more environmentally friendly.