During a particularly cold winter a couple of years back, my wife and I woke up to a house-gone-cold because our home heating oil tank had run dry. “That’s been happening a lot this year,” said the customer service rep. Delivery schedules are typically based on average use, she explained. Burn too much oil too soon, and, well, forget about taking a morning shower.
Postponing a bath is hardly the worse-case outcome of losing heat. Had the tank run dry while we were away on a weeklong vacation earlier that super-cold winter, we might have come home to burst water pipes and exploded bathroom fixtures
So it raises the question. If my car can tell me that I’m running low on gas, why can’t my oil tank ping the fuel company before it’s completely empty? Not only would that ensure that my house stays warm, it would enable the oil company to make more efficient use of its delivery fleet.
While the home heating fuel industry may be slow to recognize the benefits of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, companies in other industries are warming up to its opportunities.
Car makers have been using M2M communications for several years to enable navigation systems, provide traffic updates, and automatically notify emergency services of accidents. And they are working very hard to make the next evolution of auto safety – connected vehicle technology – a reality.
Connected vehicle technology will allow cars to avoid crashes by communicating in real time with each other and the roadway infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that technologies including GPS, Wi-Fi sensors and short-range radio frequency have the potential to mitigate the risk of more than 80 percent of all unimpaired driver-related crash scenarios.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s David Strictland said “Vehicle-to-vehicle technologies have the potential to significantly reduce fatalities and injuries in crashes and could one day help motorists avoid crashes altogether.”
In the medical community, M2M communications already enable physicians to provide a variety of services remotely. M2M-enabled telemedicine enhances care of chronic diseases by monitoring remotely and reporting patients’ vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar level.
The telemedicine market potential is growing fast. According to BBC Research, Wellesley, MA, the global telemedicine market is expected to grow to $27.3 billion by 2012, up from $11.6 billion in 2011.
The potential is significant. Forrester Research forecasts revenue for M2M connectivity services alone will grow to $17 billion by 2016. But according to SAP, revenue for services beyond connectivity will be equal to connectivity services, if not greater.
SAP highlights four service areas beyond connectivity that CSPs should be prepared to offer.
- Next generation billing — The M2M market is fragmented due to the involvement of multiple partners and stakeholders. CSPs need to provide a truly innovative, flexible and scalable billing solution that can address all M2M challenges and accommodate billing for multiple industries.
- Analytics — Data itself is useless unless it is processed and intelligence can be derived from it. The CSPs can step in here and take up the data processing piece to provide additional value to customers
- Device management – Enterprises require a highly automated device management solution that encompasses device lifecycle from delivery and provisioning to device retirement, decommissioning, or cleansing to protect sensitive data on lost or stolen devices.
- Application support – CSPs need to provide an application support platform that facilitates creation and management of mobile applications and provides secure connectivity between applications and back-end systems. This will allow M2M solutions to flourish and bring more power to mobile devices.
Several leading communication service providers including ATT, Vodaphone and Verizon are already making deeper forays into the M2M communication market.
For more information on how these companies are expanding their M2M framework and other opportunities for communication services providers, read the white paper available here. (registration required)