I recently attended the M2M Connected World industry event. In years past, this event was defined by the unequal representation of vendors and end-users, the vendors presenting compelling and competing technologies to one another — certainly not atypical of an emerging market. This year’s attendance (estimated at 500) was decidedly geared toward end-users considering the technology as a vehicle for solving important business challenges.
The evolution of the show’s structure and content demonstrated the continued maturation of a technology segment that Manufacturing Insights anticipates will grow. This segment’s near-term growth will be a result of initiatives such as the U.S. government’s ARRA mandate and increasing requirements for companies to deliver higher levels of service with fewer resources. These factors will likely force product and service companies to seek alternative manners for providing service and support, while potentially creating new revenue streams.
To harness current opportunities, M2M vendors must elevate their technology’s value proposition to system integrators such as IBM, HP/EDS, and CSC — the most likely participants in the type of projects mandated by ARRA that may exploit M2M technology. M2M vendors and the market’s current ecosystem currently lack the leverage required to secure these opportunities alone.
Notwithstanding the absence of system integration firms at M2M Connected World, the show’s organizers and presenters stuck to the timely themes of Smart Grid technologies in the energy sector, telematics in the automotive and off-road vehicle space, and efficient power and resource management in the building automation segment. M2M vendors and end-users attending this event benefited from a well-structured agenda that aligned well with macroeconomic forces likely to impact both communities.
End-users ranging from municipal governments to off-road vehicle OEMs presented use cases in which M2M technologies provided visibility into asset performance. The use cases presented were production environments that offered actionable takeaways for attendees. Mercifully, academic dissertation on pilot programs and one-off deployments were left off the show’s agenda.
The City of Chicago demonstrated that its vehicle fleet’s use of GPS had allowed more efficient allocation of the city’s wide array of mobile assets. This use case is instructive for manufacturers that maintain rolling service fleets: they can achieve similar fleet efficiencies. AGCO, a manufacturer of farm and off-road vehicles, demonstrated how M2M derived data were used across the corporation to facilitate evidence-based visibility into efficiencies and deficiencies of its full product life cycle.
AGCO presented a compelling presentation that articulated the benefits the company had realized since its adoption of M2M technologies. More specifically, the company outlined how M2M data had assisted the global enterprise in repurposing human and capital assets in a challenging economic period. The company’s use of data derived from telematics demonstrated an evolution of how M2M data can be used by companies with complex product lines. AGCO spoke to the established telematics themes of job fencing and triangulation, but extended the narrative to include less obvious uses of M2M data, such as for verifying or refuting warranty claims.
Although the M2M segment has matured in areas, the space continues to lack a cohesive and consistent theme concerning data and enterprise-wide engagement. Instances of leveraged M2M data were addressed (for example, by AGCO), but the segment has not yet achieved enterprise-level penetration adequate for moving it into the realm of CRM or ERP.
The M2M space has crossed the first chasm and elevated the discussion beyond technical wizardry, and now the players and boosters of the M2M space need to include enterprise players in the M2M value discussion. Certainly, the development of partnerships between M2M vendor Axeda and Oracle offers a suggestion of enterprise vendor involvement. Nevertheless, Oracle and SAP have offerings in service and asset management, so M2M vendors would be well served to engage the duopoly and socialize synergies between their technologies and ERP vendor offerings.
Moving forward, M2M market growth will be accelerated less by the entities present at this year’s event and more by those not in attendance. Manufacturing Insights believes that M2M technologies will be central elements in the success of current and future wide-reaching initiatives, and formalized partnerships with ERP vendors and system integrators will assure that M2M vendors and their supporting ecosystem will get a share of the opportunities ahead.
So what do you think, what will drive this segment forward? Is the M2M market's inflection point commitment from ERP vendors or System Integrators, or a combination of the two?
Regarding the M2M Connected World Event, what themes have resonated with you?