Machine-to-machine communications (M2M) may not have taken off as a sector at the rate expected, but there is still plenty of opportunity for technology providers of all sizes especially as M2M platforms morph into cloud services.
Rami Avidan, chief executive officer of global network enabler Wyless, said: “There has been a fragmented eco-system, coupled with too much focus on the technologies, rather than the business solutions. There is no one-stop M2M shop for understanding what it can do for the business as a whole.”
M2M is used increasingly in such areas as surveillance and physical security, robotics and credit card or banking applications.
Avidan said that Wyless has just launched Porthos, its next-generation software-as-a-service-based management platform.
“Talking with our customers and partners was key. They were already benefiting from the existing management platform,” he said.
“The challenge was to improve the user experience and add new features and functions that would help them manage and grow their business more easily and quickly.”
Wyless works with application service providers to target different verticals. Using Wyless’ open platform, providers can offer intelligent networking solutions that help cut costs and improve revenue and time-to-market.
M2M technology provision as a managed service means that customers or partners get one point of contact and one invoice. There are 500 customers and partners using Wyless’ managed services across the globe.
“There are seven billion people on the planet and 60 billion machines,” said Avidan. “Our focus has been on the challenge of connecting these machines globally.”
“We have designed and developed a unique managed network that provides reliable and secure wireless data connectivity across 120 countries, over 200 GPRS and 400 GSM networks.”
Porthos in practice
The new Porthos dashboard is a kind of M2M platform in a box. It promises real-time visibility and reporting of user networks as well as automated provisioning, billing, alert and alarm systems, activation and deactivation of SIMs, network configuration management and integration through its Application Programming Interface (API).
Resellers can use Porthos to offer Wyless services to customers without having to deploy and manage wireless networking.
For example, companies such as ABB Robotics use Wyless’ managed service to monitor and control its robots scattered around the globe, by communicating with them via the ABB MyRobot web site.
Wyless also provided a specialist dedicated project manager and its managed solution to Verifone working alongside Verifone’s integrator Commidea when it was converting point-of-sale systems across the UK to cope with the advent of higher-security chip-and-PIN technology.
Provisioning was simplified by the ability to activate and deactivate Verifone SIMs, and patented fixed-IP connectivity gave security.
Dr Mike Short, vice president for group research and development at Wyless partner Telefonica O2, said opportunities around M2M exist for all sizes of reseller.
“Some solutions are M2M, some are Near Field Communications. It is thinking about services in a different way to just voice and data,” he said.
Projects are emerging in the m-ticketing and cashcard arena, as well as inventory related applications involving RFID tagging. Transport is a growing user of M2M-based offerings, as are verticals such as healthcare and banking.
Short said opportunities in the intelligent roads arena have been held back by the recession but are still happening. The spread of videoconferencing and telepresence also offered potential for M2M communications sales.
Any sector that has to manage and monitor lots of people or hardware remotely stands to benefit from innovative M2M-related applications and service provision.
“We do not think that M2M is going into every hospital actually that is the last thing,” said Short. “But 60 per cent of GDP in the European Union is spent on healthcare and it is just not sustainable.”
Partners are needed because of the diversity of customers and requirements. Standardisation is coming, while the networking, according to Short, can support these developments as they occur.
“We do not think this is a capacity challenge,” he said. “If anything, it is a solutions and skills challenge, which is where partnering comes in.”
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