Mobility Spoken Here (Part 2)

Last week, I shared my thoughts on some of the standout categories from Mobile World Congress. But now I want to delve deeper into a major trend I saw developing at MWC 2012 – one that will impact the way enterprises approach mobility in the coming year.

Everything is going global.

The wireless industry, once divided along country borders and only loosely confederated by roaming agreements, has taken a definitive turn toward recognizing the international nature of commerce. Quite a few tech companies introduced globally available enterprise solutions at this year’s Mobile World Congress.  And much of the talk in Barcelona zeroed in on the importance of globally consistent solutions – whether those were applications that a company rolled out in one geography or highly technical machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions built deep into the guts of their product. For today’s blog, let’s focus on one area that is breaking through the single country barrier: M2M.

Machine-to-machine used to be niche business – regional if not country-specific, typically restricted to sensing a particular piece of data from a machine and often low bandwidth. But today, that’s history. At AT&T, we’re seeing more and more customers looking at applications that cover the whole spectrum of M2M, from sensing the data to analyzing it in the cloud and being able to remediate over the air remotely or by dispatching a person (perhaps we could call that M2P or machine-to-person, to coin a new term!).

The regional-to-global transformation in M2M, however, is even more profound than the advent of advanced applications. Increasingly, it’s overly simplistic to assume that global companies with global SKUs will create different SKUs merely to overcome the fact that they need to work with different carriers in different geographies. I believe it’s downright unacceptable to tell a heavy goods manufacturer that they must have 127 SKUs for a single tractor to correspond with the way global telecommunications is structured.

Also consider the impact on a shipping company that uses M2M communications to track its cargo. Some of that cargo inevitably crosses international borders en route to its final destination – fruit traveling from South America to colder climates, consumer electronics making their way from Asia to Europe, etc. On a regular basis, technicians had to swap out the country-specific SIMs in their M2M devices in order to keep the solution up and running.

That tedious, inefficient approach is no longer necessary. Global SIMs, with one carrier to manage the myriad carriers behind the scenes, offer expansive international coverage in a single wireless SIM. Announced by AT&T at Mobile World Congress, the technology will support multi-national enterprises and connected device manufacturers alike, allowing their M2M solutions to move freely throughout the world.

Many businesses no longer limit their operations to a single country – or even one continent. We live in a jet-setting and globe-trotting society. And it’s time for the wireless industry to address the globalization trend in a thoughtful, strategic manner. From what I saw at Mobile World Congress, we’re starting to do exactly that.

What other mobility solutions can benefit from going global? Have you ever run into difficulty with getting your wireless products to work internationally? Let’s hear what you have to say. You never know – your favorite mobile services might be the next ones to get globalized.
Abhi Ingle Big Data and Advanced Solutions Senior Vice President AT&T About Abhi