- The first generation of M2M platforms (service delivery platforms, or SDPs) provided connectivity-oriented management and control, such as service/SIM activation, real-time diagnostics and troubleshooting, and rate plan generation, with the best-known platforms in the market coming from third parties such as Jasper Wireless and Ericsson and operators such as Orange and Vodafone.
- The second generation of M2M platforms added cloud-based application development tools as well as key functions such as remote device management, firmware/software upgrades and device-level remote diagnostics. Vendors such as Axeda and Sierra Wireless are well-known in this segment, while SAP is adding this kind of functionality on top of the Ericsson SDP. What’s next?
During the last five years, a variety of solutions have been deployed to set up wired or wireless connectivity between machines, sensors and other devices and the servers and systems that use the data collected from these machines to enhance processes and productivity. Enterprises can also get help via application platforms that aid in developing simple or complex apps to extract data, and manage/configure/update their end devices. What has come next is a focus on data analytics as a significantly important component of M2M deployments (as well as a value-added service that can be monetized by systems integrators and operators).
Not surprisingly, data enablement platforms are appearing on the scene to make sure that data can be collected from diverse device types, combined with data from other devices, filtered and prioritized to sort out the most important elements, and integrated in with existing data stores and ERP applications already in use by the enterprise; the underlying theme is that data must be meaningful, and by analyzing it, patterns, problems, and usage trends emerge that improve the business. Data can help existing processes to be more productive, show flaws in existing machines or workflows, or be instrumental in developing new enterprise services targeting enterprises’ business and consumer customers for use cases such as remote monitoring of medical devices, cargo, fleets, manufacturing equipment, energy management or security/surveillance. Most of the large SIs involved in M2M deployments offer these kinds of platforms as do companies such as Gemalto with its SensorLogic platform. There are also platforms for particular applications or verticals. Position Logic, recently acquired by RACO Wireless, focuses on asset tracking while Hughes Telematics (acquired by Verizon) offers platforms that focus on automotive telematics and healthcare monitoring.
While many of these platforms have some overlapping functionality (further complicating the M2M delivery ecosystem while simultaneously attempting to streamline it), the end goal is similar – to make sure that the data collected from all of these machines and sensors is actually used to improve the business of the company investing in the collection!