What Are Machines Talking About?

by Kevin Benedict

October 5, 2010

In the article M2M: Driving Expoential Growth in Connections, author Perry LaFarge writes, "The number of machines communicating with each other wirelessly will soon dwarf the number of people connected via mobile devices."

What kind of machines are communicating with each other?  Machines like Redbox movie kiosks communicating DVD inventories to iPhone users; tractors and other heavy equipment reporting their maintenance status to the central office; and all kinds of high value assets reporting their location, status and numerous other details monitored by remote sensors.  Homes are also reporting minute by minute energy consumption to both the homeowner and the utility through smart meters and smart grids.  The use cases are endless.

"We think of M2M as any device that uses electricity and communicates with another device: quite literally, machines talking to machines without a person actively creating that connection, " adds LaFarge.

Washing machines, e-Readers, music players and nearly all other consumer electronic devices will be wireless enabled according to AT&T.  With all of that data moving around between machines, where do we extract value?  "By combining the capabilities of the Web, cloud computing, analytics and tiny intelligent sensors, CIOs can help create wholly new products and services connected to networks and to each other," CIO Dan Speicher of Hughes Telematics in this article.

Let's take a look at an enterprise scenario for M2M involving Enfora and Smart Management.  Enfora and Smart Management have developed an integrated solution that combines Smart Management’s TAG-HUB supply chain management system with Enfora’s Spider AT, M2M asset monitoring system to provide automated tracking and monitoring of assets and equipment throughout the oil and gas supply chain.  For example, this solution can track vital equipment and materials as it is moving from the supply vessel through a port, to an onshore supply base.

I was interviewing Simon Morris, with SAP mobility partner ClickSoftware a few weeks ago, and he said ClickSoftware is also very interested in the enterprise use of M2M solutions for service technicians to better interact with equipment.  It won't be too long before service technicians can remotely request that equipment perform self diagnostics and report back the results so they can better plan their work and schedules.

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