M2M (Machine to Machine) is progressing quickly from custom designed solutions to address a specific business function or need to larger scale mobility initiatives within an organization.  With more M2M applications, M2M devices, and an increasing business appetite to leverage M2M in all areas of business – CTOs and CIOs can see a growing issue of scalability and management of M2M.

When there is a need, a solution typically comes to the rescue, but we have to make sure that we intelligently use an M2M middleware solution without adding additional unnecessary costs.  Ideal customers for an M2M Application Platform are those that have multiple tracking needs across the enterprise. For diversified manufacturers, a common infrastructure can be used to support applications across multiple divisions and business units.

For example, a chemical company could use a common platform to monitor tank levels, equipment utilization, and vehicle location use cases.

- Different tracking technologies (e.g. RFID, Zigbee, GPS, etc) could  be deployed in the same solution.

- With a connection built into smart products, companies can provide mobile e-commerce applications, value-added services, and targeted content delivery. Through superior customer experience, customer loyalty is improved, increasing retention.

Here are some reasons additional reasons that an M2M middleware solution would be needed…

1. Support for Multiple M2M Device types

  • Does the M2M solution require integration with different devices, device types?
  • M2M application platforms are designed to be device agnostic, with the ability to easily add new devices or upgrade new firmware/software revisions over time.  It may  not be realistic or cost effective  to create an M2M application for just one device.
  • An application platform helps future proof a company’s M2M investment. Consider device proliferation; the numbers and types of devices produced by manufacturers continue to grow rapidly. It takes even more time to develop a solution that can be resilient to change and allow applications to tolerate, or better, to exploit device differences. This is compounded when applications also require varying communications support for multiple protocols and diverse wireless operators’ networks.

2. Reduction of M2M application development costs and standardize deployment

  • M2M application platforms take care of the “plumbing” allowing for scalability and reuse.   No need to rebuild the schema, add users/security when creating new M2M applications.
  • M2M application platforms are designed to be highly scalable across thousands of connected devices.    A common foundation enables efficient and cost effective processing and storage of massive amounts of M2M data.
  • Having a common M2M Application Platform allows for creating business logic without low-level coding and custom code.
  • The platform approach allows companies to bring new applications to market faster than building from scratch ….avoiding “reinventing the wheel” every time a new application (or device) needs to be added.
  • A platform approach centralizes the rules engine, alarm/exception handling, device management, data management in one place.

3. Integration enablement

  • An M2M Application platform enables integration to enterprise applications like ERP and CRM, allowing the M2M solution to tie to the system of record.   For example, the installed base (or asset) record could display up to date configuration data from the machine.  This helps enable integrated business processes.  E.g. an alarm condition can trigger the automatic creation of a Case (service request) in the CRM system for dispatching a field technician, or the automatic generation of a replenishment order when consumables fall below a given level.
  • A common platform (middleware) significantly reduces operating costs when compared to integrating multiple point solutions across the enterprise.    Let’s say a vending company had a fleet application, a dispenser application, and a retail kiosk solution to manage – each requiring sophisticated integration to SAP.  The platform approach could consolidate the integration paths, as opposed to writing multiple interfaces.

4. Support Multiple Connectivity options

  • An M2M Application platform should be device and network-agnostic, supporting both wireless, ethernet, wifi satellite, and other  deployments.

With these considerations above your decision to implement an application enter into your M2M architecture.

So, what are your key considerations now for M2M implementation?