The proliferation of networked devices is a rapidly expanding sector that provides immense benefits because of a single vital factor: Data acquisition. Interconnected devices (can also be referred to as smart devices) can acquire data based on user behaviour. Take automated thermostats, for example. They observe homeowners’ habits (time when they turn up the temperature, preferred room temperature, etc.) and then use those data to function automatically. More importantly, these devices are equipped with the kind of technology that businesses can leverage for better services and improved profits.
What Is M2M?
Machine to machine technology (M2M) is focused on the way machines (devices) communicate with each other. This technology isn’t really new. In fact, it’s been used before the dawn of personal computers and Internet in applications like telemetry and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA). The automated communication of data through both wireless and wired systems allows businesses make more informed decisions as the needs arise.
Modern M2M connects devices to remote computers. It uses the cloud to manage devices and collect data. Take delivery trucks for example. Companies need to be able to track where trucks are in real-time so they can identify which orders have been fulfilled. Monitoring the vehicles’ locations can also help dispatchers plot the most cost-efficient routes and even detect when certain trucks experience problems. M2M communication makes all of these possible.
How Can It Benefit Your Business?
In an era where almost everything is connected to the Internet, M2M technologies make life easier for business owners and their employees. Automation transforms the business environment. By relying more on machines to do the work, we can be guaranteed of more accurate data, which translates to better business decisions.
Relying solely on manpower can have consequences due to human errors. Often, machines that utilise software and programs can do a much better job because they expedite the entire process. While they still require human supervision, the reduced error margin makes them a great way to cut costs. Among others, the ability to remotely manage machines allows businesses to:
Fix problems as soon as they arise. Equipment, like office printers, can trigger a signal to manufacturers when it’s run out of ink or when it’s damaged. Most of the time, employees won’t know the problem exists until they are about to use the device, and that makes things worse because they can’t print documents they need right now. M2M technology can help avoid this kind of delay.
Reduce costs and reduce the carbon footprint. Warehouse managers don’t need to go to each site to check machines. That significantly reduces travel costs and carbon footprint. They can be on top of things even from a remote office.
Make employees better prepared to deal with problems. For businesses that handle repair men sent to houses and offices to fix problems, M2M communications help troubleshoot issues remotely and determine the problem, so that they know exactly what to bring. This keeps them from wasting time and helps them provide swift customer service.
Automate business processes. Automation is an important aspect of running a business, as having the means to accomplish tasks with minimal human supervision can save a lot of time and money.
Optimise business practices. Through data acquired from M2M technologies, companies can now figure out better ways to get things done more efficiently. Going back to the delivery truck example, it’s easier to calculate optimal delivery routes and monitor the location of each truck in real-time. This will be crucial in answering customer inquiries and even deal with complaints.
Real-time view of crucial assets. Communication between devices allows management to view and manage assets in real-time. That includes identifying the exact physical location of items. This kind of information can then be used to manage costs.
Make businesses more proactive instead of reactive. To improve customer experience, businesses need to not only respond to problems immediately but to anticipate future problems and provide the solutions right away. Going back to the printer example earlier, sensors that report the amount of ink available lets users to order a replacement even before they realise they need it. The same thing applies with cars. Sensors for suspension wear and tear and other engine parts will help manufacturers address the need more efficiently. This also prevents expensive repair costs because car owners will immediately know if there’s a problem.
Provide a hard return on investment (ROI). Because of the valuable business intelligence (BI) it provides, businesses can save time and costs, as well as find opportunities for innovation and drive customer engagement. All these lead to better ROI.
What Does These All Mean for Australian Businesses?
Businesses know what M2M can do for their bottom line, however, what are the chances of actually taking advantage of these?
Ideally, M2M technologies will play a huge part in enterprises especially with the foreseen growth of Internet-connected devices in the next six years. Cisco predicts that there will be 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Asia-Pacific (APAC) is also seen as one of the frontrunners in terms of adopting this technology. In fact, APAC placed second in a survey of regions that consider M2M crucial to businesses. 31 percent of businesses deem it important compared to North America where only 24 percent considers it critical. Europe topped the list at 42 percent.
Out of all the respondents, a total of 40 percent considers M2M important and these companies hope to find more business opportunities, improve existing products and services, and respond to customer concerns in the quickest way possible. The numbers could still use some improvement but they’re definitely a good sign that many enterprises in Australia are aware of the benefits M2M technologies can bring to the table.