Internet of Things: inspiration lies in B2B apps

5 05 2010

Last night’s Internet of Things mashup* event, hosted by BCS, was illuminating. What’s clear is that there is a varied level of understanding around M2M; what it is, what the technology comprises and, crucially, its usefulness to business. It was interesting, therefore, that the debate started with the idea we are at the start of something big, rather than, as some would argue, at the point at which tried and tested technology becomes a mainstream concern.

M2M in the field

I agree that the market sits at a tipping point of sorts. M2M / Internet of Things, or data connectivity and analysis at its simplest, isn’t a new idea. Two of the companies sitting on the panel – Wireless Logic and Arkessa – have been designing, implementing and mangaging B2B M2M projects for 10 and eight years, respectively, Wireless Logic focusing on mobile data connectivity, Arkessa focusing more on Fixed Line. But what is new is the idea that embedded data connnectivity solutions have a use outside of sector applications and have a role to play in consumerland.

I can see it but I think it’ll be a while before we’ll start seeing our home appliances chatting to eachother. The final discussion around privacy and data protection identified a key concern for companies looking to extract data from consumer M2M implementations which needs to be worked through – as well as the thorny discussion around standards – that one could run and run.

This also doesn’t mean that there isn’t serious money already being made in M2M. Companies like Wireless Logic, in harmonious partnership with the four major networks, are forging ahead in the development of interesting and innovative applications, designed with a particular need in mind. Companies like Tunstall are pioneering the use of Fixed IP SIM cards in patient monitoring, online fast food outlets such as Just Eat are using Fixed IP SIMs to cut out the need for unreliable fax-printers and companies like Konica Minolta are saving thousands being able to remotely diagnose printing problems and remotely re-order consumables.

I also think that some of the tried and tested business models / management platforms / provisioning / SIM estate management and analysis tools already being used in industry provide useful benchmarks against what can be acheived. There are now ways for companies to create their own private networks, alongside the MNOs in a fully managed and guaranteed environment. I can’t help thinking that the inspiration for the growth of the maket already exists amongst the collective experience of those that are already doing good business in M2M.

If you need any evidence of the size and scale of the M2M opportunity, this is a good starting point.