M2M World Congress – the hot topics that everyone was talking about
The warm spring sunshine in London at the end of April certainly seemed to echo the mood of the 400 or so attendees at World Media OnLine’s M2M World Congress. With around thirty fast-paced presentations and four panel discussions spread over two days, a wide range of speakers managed to encompass just about every aspect of the intricately – and almost infinitely – interconnected universe of devices and sensors that our sector is creating in the real world out there. Complementing this, the exhibition and breakout area was almost constantly full of huddled groups engaged in intense discussions, with the whole event demonstrating an energy that clearly shows how the industry is now addressing real world engineering issues in pragmatic ways and rapidly turning visions into realities.
One key theme running throughout both the presentations and the discussions M2M Now had with a number of speakers and attendees concerned the growing question of what we’re going to do with all the data that we’re now able to collect. As everyone knows, just because you can measure something doesn’t mean that it’s actually important – commercially or strategically – and it’s interesting how the rise of Big Data and its supporting analytic disciplines are now complementing M2M and IoT sources.
It’s all about the Data
Daniela Perlmutter, head of marketing at Essence, felt that there was a definite maturing of the debate as it moved from M2M to encompass wider IoT concepts – which necessarily involve connecting systems and sharing data between different applications, with a lot of focus on the different commercial business models, both B2B2C and B2C. She highlighted the Connected Home – a specialty of Essence -as an example of bringing IoT to consumers – partly driven in Europe by the need to reduce energy consumption and actively supported by government regulation.
Seeing intelligent security, healthcare and consumer electronics as making up the top ranking IoT segments, she also emphasized the current fragmentation of the market value chain as driving a need for standardization across the eco systems, commenting that, ‘every CSP speaker made a call to action for industry collaboration – they simply don’t want to have to work with so many vendors. The evolution from M2M to the IoT is going to be enabled through the sharing of data between different applications. KPN’s speaker, Jimmy Wind, for example, framed it as the evolution from Device connectivity to Systems connectivity. Irrespective of whatever definition you use, it’s focused on the ability to use a single platform that utilises different sources of data to bring a valuable experience comprising of different applications.”
“In IoT,” Perlmutter added, “the key challenge is turning data into value– and data sharing and analytics are key to finding the value of connecting different things and applications.
Essence believes in building a future where technology is a seamless extension of people’s lives. Enriching, enabling, and shaping life’s possibilities. We use the IoT as a means to improve people’s lives currently in three fundamental areas: home security, home management and elderly care in their homes. Based on analyst findings, those three sectors are perceived as the most valuable areas that consumers are willing to pay for.”
Talking the language of IT departments in more ways than one
There was a similar focus on data from Multi-Tech, who used the event to announce the result of their cooperation with ILS Technology, a Telit company, to make Multi-Tech’s MultiConnect OCG open communications gateway “deviceWISE Ready” by embedding the deviceWISE agent directly into the OCG firmware. “The deployment of M2M applications doesn’t need to be complex”, said Rod Landers, CEO of Multi-Tech. “Multi-Tech and ILS are partnering to make it easier for people to deploy their M2M applications on the deviceWISE platform. Our goal is to make this truly plug and play and we will continue to expand our offerings through working with other companies toward similar implementations.”
Bringing together a cellular hardware development environment, built around wireless M2M modules from Telit, and Multi-Tech’s CoreCDP, a distribution version of the Linux operating system and complete Linux build environment, the MultiConnect OCG is designed to help companies create custom applications in a very short period of time. “M2M and IoT are now being integrated much more tightly into the IT environment,” adds Landers. “It’s increasingly being understood that data is where the money and commercial advantage is – and that value is going to be added via applications. We’re starting to reach a point where the customer is no longer the specialist M2M engineer, but the wider IT department.”
Any sector, many solutions
Taking a single platform – but with a broader and more holistic perspective – and still with the emphasis on adding value across an ever-widening range of industry sectors, was Chad Markle, CEO of Synapse Wireless, developers of the SNAP mesh network operating system. “We’ve now got a developer community that’s over six thousand strong, creating and designing end-to-end solutions for sectors as diverse as firework manufacturing to solar energy farms,” he said. “All these different audiences are now starting to realise the different implications for their particular businesses of deploying and using sensors and appropriate platforms – and we’ve been very active in helping spread the word through education aimed at board members amongst our target markets. In particular, we’re seeing an accelerating interest in integrated Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) solutions, even down to the use of sensors to automatically monitor the use of different consumables, even down to hand towels in industrial environments. It’s all about reducing friction for our customers and their processes.”
Connectivity – literally from the ground up
Breaking surface publicly for almost the first time, new British company Senaptic used the event to promote its ultra-scalable, Ultra-Narrowband-based private network solutions for smart cities and utilities. With a very experienced management team of leading entrepreneurs from the worlds of technology, R&D and business innovation, and founded on the proven technology provider Plextek, which has already shipped over six million IoT devices to over 30 countries, the Senaptic business model has already been successfully rolled out in key markets that include Russia and China. Currently deployed systems include smart city monitoring of citywide parking availability, vehicle tracking and recovery, and the remote control and monitoring of streetlights across cities or regions.
Senaptic’s CEO, Will Franks, already well known in the wireless sector as co-founder of Ubiquisys, the award-winning developer of multimode small cells, explained that these and other solutions are available to local licensees through Senaptic’s Apella – an integrated suite of M2M packages developed to address IoT opportunities, and which uses Senaptic’s Ultra Narrow Band radio technology to increase the return on investment from deployed systems and provide advantages that other wireless technologies cannot deliver.
Franks said, “It’s clear that the Internet of Things is more than just game-changing. It is world-changing. The big question is how it can be rapidly developed and monetized. By removing the dependency on traditional networks, we believe that Senaptic has the answer.”
The IoT from a national interest perspective
One interesting CSP perspective came from Selen Kocabas, chief corporate business officer at Turkcell. Present across a wide range of countries, all at different stages of cellular deployment and economic maturity, ranging from MVNO operations in Germany, through its home base in Turkey, to ex-CIS states like Kazakhstan, the CSP is using its Turkcell Technology subsidiary to develop M2M solutions and already has over forty partners building services and applications. “In Turkey, we currently have around 1.4 million machines – mainly PoS terminals – connected to our network,” she said.
“In our home nation,” she added, “we’re recognised as playing an increasingly important part in making the country’s economy more efficient in a range of different ways across a number of different sectors. For example, with around 80 percent of trucks in Turkey being owned by individuals, our SmartFleet solution is helping haulage operators aggregate loads for onward shipping, increasing their profits and reducing overall fuel consumption. Similar M2M/IoT initiatives are also being to drastically reduce water wastage – always an issue in the more arid regions of our country – as well as monitor electricity usage by businesses, who face automatic fines if they exceed pre-assigned levels.”
4G and IoT – build for the future
One final view on the future was added by Craig Miller, VP worldwide marketing at LTE chip specialist Sequans. “People sometimes ask what benefits LTE brings to the M2M/IoT marketplace, particularly given the low bandwidth and data speed demands that these applications typically require. While there are a number of factors involved, one key one revolves around the long lifespan that many installed M2M devices must have – such as in the automotive sector. When you look at what’s happening in the US – and what will also undoubtedly happen elsewhere – you see CSPs refarming their 2G and 3G spectrums to carry 4G, while 4G coverage is also becoming pervasive very quickly.
“Additionally, if you take the phone out of the ecosystem, LTE chips designed specifically for M2M/IoT applications can deliver major design benefits such as low cost, low power and small form factor, while in some mission-critical operational situations the low latency of LTE also provides added advantages,” he concludes.