Numerex and Omnilink come together to form a complete M2M value chain
In April this year, Numerex acquired fellow Atlanta, Georgia headquartered M2M technology provider Omnilink. The acquisition enables Omnilink to become a Numerex branded solution and brings greater presence in the personal emergency and response (PERS) and judicial and offender monitoring markets to Numerex.
Hudson is excited by the prospect of continuing to find new applications for Omnilink’s technology in other verticals and to make use of Numerex’s solutions, sales channels and partners. In addition, he sees the two companies developing a portfolio of highly complimentary security, tracking and monitoring solutions to bring to market through retail and commercial channels through mobile operators and distribution partners that currently sell Omnilink products.
M2M Now: How does the Numerex acquisition of Omnilink affect the broader M2M market? What kinds of changes can we expect to see in the market as a result of the acquisition?
Steve Hudson: Both companies have been in business since long before M2M was an industry trend. Numerex has existed since 1992 and Omnilink was established in 2004, so M2M wasn’t even a recognised industry or buzzword when we started in this business.
What we’ve done now is bring two veteran organisations together that approach the market in the same way. In M2M, it’s quite complex to bring all the elements of the value chain together in one approach. We have the DNA – device, network and application concept, which is at the core of all Numerex solutions, to achieve that. This enables our customers to get the solutions they want and have their problems solved, because we deliver the complete solution.
Both companies have focused on a high level of mission critical availability because, when you work with enterprises, you need to ensure security and scalability is sustainable. We have that at the core of our solutions across all the disparate components such as device, network, user interface and support, that compose the entire service.
One of the benefits of being in the business for so long is that we’ve been able to sort all of that out. We believe that focusing on holistic solutions is important – you can’t keep asking customers to figure it out for themselves. We want to give the end user something complete and we will work with domain experts, brands and channels that really understand the market we’re providing a solution for.
That’s valuable because we’re helping move markets forward by helping people succeed. Success will breed success and keep the momentum of M2M moving forward.
M2M Now: What are the key synergies between the two companies, that combined, will see greater applications of Numerex solutions in the
security M2M vertical markets?
SH: Security is one of the major business areas for Numerex and with users turning away from landlines, many alarm communications are moving to wireless technologies which are a key strategic interest for Numerex. While we really understand alarm communications – consumer, commercial and fire – with Omnilink we now expand the category even further with personal and asset identification and tracking. In addition, Numerex is in the forefront of development with the latest security tools such as smartphone apps for consumers which allow home automation and interactive services and remote management of alarm systems, as well as installer apps which streamline alarm installations. At the same time, Omnilink developed its business focusing on offender monitoring and there is a huge market in that space to help reduce taxpayer dollars with a lower cost alternative to incarceration.
People at risk would be children, the elderly and lone workers. In Canada and Europe there is legislation for lone worker protection and we have a lone worker solutions programme to address that.
In addition, we have customers such as the National Alzheimers Association in the US and the Amber Watch Foundation for children. We work with brands like Verizon and Sprint which sell solutions in their stores directly to consumers that we power with our technology. That’s accretive for Numerex, which has sold predominately through other channels.
In vehicles, we have a connected car programme that helps parents manage a family of drivers and also supports a maintenance and diagnostics programme. We are the managed services provider for Audiovox’s Car Connection Programme, which connects through an OBDII port in the vehicle, and has no wiring. Consumers just plug it in and it’s easily configured for use.
You can buy it from an AT&T store, online e-stores and Audiovox dealer channels which again are complementary channels for Numerex.
M2M Now: Describe the challenges involved in addressing the judicial and offender monitoring markets with M2M solutions. How does M2M solve customer problems in these areas?
SH: It is unique in the sense that it is expected to work 100% of the time. Many solutions provide productivity tools, for example, but the consequences of failure when monitoring an offender outside a jail are far greater. We provide a reliable service that courts continue to use as an alternative to jailing offenders.
When we started out serving this market, the status quo was to have a passive alarm that triggered when a person left their house. That has progressed now to allow the person to leave home and go to work but if they went somewhere they shouldn’t go, such as near the home of an ex-partner in the case of a domestic violence offender, the alarm would trigger.
Omnilink through the use of M2M technology has incorporated cellular and GPS technology in a one piece device with a tamper-evident strap. Our solution became indoor and outdoor and we enhanced that with our intellectual property. We’re now able to locate people who are not in a fixed location but also may be mobile.
In contrast to companies that offer offender monitoring we have a pedigree from the security business, and our software was built to be exception based from the beginning. Everything we did was in real-time and we provided the ability to make it really easy to use.
If you can track someone who doesn’t want to be tracked you have got exceptional capability to transfer to other, more receptive, markets. A lot of the features and functionality in our asset ID and tracking technology can be used for other verticals.
M2M Now: What are the key products and solutions Omnilink, a Numerex branded solution, sells into the M2M space?
SH: Beyond the offender solution, when we entered the market ten years ago, the cost of data and devices was quite high. To keep someone in jail the average cost is $84.95 per day, whereas offender monitoring averages about $15, so when you compare it to other solutions, remote monitoring is of huge value for the customer. Moreover, the cost of data and network modules fits into a healthy margin proposition for Numerex.
However, since we’ve seen the component and network costs come down the technology is more applicable to many more markets that have greater scale. An application like child tracking is a good example. To address this, Omnilink built the Sprint WeGo product which is designed for children for whom a smartphone is not appropriate. It looks like a cellphone but has built-in security so a parent can input ten numbers through an intuitive web portal essentially a white list – to regulate who their child is able to be contacted by and who they are able to contact. In addition, the device has an alarm function that automatically dials out if the child triggers the alarm.
For seniors and other family members, we developed a managed service for Verizon Wireless called SureResponse, which is a mobile Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) to help a user get in touch with a loved one or emergency services 24/7 at the press of button. With permission, members can also log into a web portal anytime to view location of the device for additional peace of mind.
When it comes to asset tracking, the same platform we use to monitor offenders can be applied. Up to $30bn of goods are reported stolen from the retail and supply chain annually, and it doesn’t take much to potentially lose millions of dollars if a truck full of pharmaceuticals is stolen, for example. We’ve essentially created a platform that started with offender management which can be tailored to address focused solutions for set tracking of both people and things.
M2M Now: How does the scope and scale of a larger Numerex Corporation better position these Omnilink products for the future?
SH: Omnilink had been a venture capital-backed growth company which sought a partner to help us get to the next level. Numerex, as a public company that has integrated several acquisitions successfully, is a perfect fit. Numerex is a top tier M2M company, with over 2.4m subscribers, strong growth rate, assets and respected leadership.
As any company scales up successfully like Numerex, it overcomes the challenges customers face, and the combination of Omnilink as a Numerex solution allows us to keep the same trend of being customer focused to address the market’s needs.
Beyond the people, talent and scale that these technology and solutions add are additional channels to market. A sort of cross pollination effect allows Omnilink products to now go into Numerex channels and vice versa.
I think the cross-channel and cross-product pollination will be huge and, as we go to the next level, the roadmap and outcome will be greatly enhanced.