Part 6: Extend Machines with Connected Services to Differentiate
Today’s blog post discusses how machine data can be leveraged to deliver new applications that extend the utility of the machine for end-users. In my previous post on “what CEOs need to know about M2M”, I gave examples of business processes that have been enhanced and improved using machine data. These examples were about improving efficiency and taking out costs and demonstrated value to the machine manufacturer. As you recall, this was level 5 on the M2M value curve. But what about the end-user of the machine… how can we use the connectivity to deliver direct value to them?
The ultimate goal for product manufacturers, what we refer to as Level 6, is product differentiation. This level is about changing the product experience for customers by adding value-added apps that enhance the value of a machine. This is where connected capabilities have the capacity to transform a business and increase customer loyalty… where innovation is achieved by enabling end-users and customers to interact with the machine data… where manufacturers can reinvent their user experience.
There are many types of custom applications that can enhance the utility of a machine. Organizations can present data from the connected product to users and end-customers via portals and web applications that they can view while using equipment in real time. For example, a web application connected to the machine may allow the user to remotely control the machine or monitor the consumables on the machine so they can to be replenished in a timely manner. The manufacturer can also provide an application to audit all machine activity and make it easy to generate compliance reports. In fact, many of our customers now provide a web portal with their equipment that provides these fore mentioned capabilities and more.
The other big trend we are seeing is “mobile apps”. Smart phone and tablets are emerging as a way to put applications that interact with machines in the hands of field personnel and end-users who need remote access from anywhere. In some cases, workers can go home earlier knowing if something goes wrong the machine will contact them on their phone (maybe a text message) and they can quickly access the machine via their mobile device. You can see how this can reduce the labor costs for an organization while at the same time improve effectiveness of their employees.
Net/net: value-added applications can be used to improve competitiveness and drive market share. Apps can also be new revenue- generating offerings when sold as value-added services. For the most progressive companies reaching this highest level, Axeda provides easy-to-use development tools and APIs to access collected machine data and to rapidly create new innovative customer-facing applications that differentiate their offerings. The Axeda platform also includes a rules engine and scripting engine. Combined with the RESTful and SOAP-based web services, developers are empowered to rapidly build and deploy new applications.
In all these examples, think of Axeda as the “M2M Application Enablement Platform”… the software that collects the machine data, transforms it, stores it and then makes it easy to access and incorporate it into new applications. In my next post, I’ll share Axeda customer examples of apps that differentiate their machines and provide a competitive advantage. You’ll see how these expanded offerings are driving rapid adoption of their connected services. Why? Because instead of trying to “sell” connected services to their customers, their customers are demanding it… their customers “need” the new applications and they fully appreciate the value that the apps can deliver to their operations and business. Just like the consumer world, in the industrial world, the notion of an “app store” for machines is emerging.
How are you Using your Machine Data?
It’s time to think big: R&D wants the right priorities. Operations wants real-time tracking of remote assets. Sales wants eyes everywhere at the customer site.
As machines get easier and less expensive to connect every year, companies are realizing that the M2M data they create can provide massive benefits beyond the service team. At Axeda Connexion 2012, we asked savvy M2M adopters about what’s next for their M2M strategies, and the answer was clear – Extend the Machine Cloud to the entire organization.
Two-thirds of the M2M innovators at Connexion said they are interested, planning, or scheduled to integrate M2M data with back-end enterprise systems, with the goal of breaking down silos and sharing valuable connected product data to business functions across their organization.
M2M metrics vary from product to product, and can impact reduced time-to-market, improved productivity, and lowered or avoided costs – the possibilities are endless. Our Machine Cloud Infographic highlights some of the processes where back-end integration can have the strongest impact.
These findings demonstrate why the M2M industry is so exciting right now. Organizations are finding ways to leverage business analytics, increase automation, transform their business, and, ultimately, deliver a superior experience for customers.
Gartner announced its “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends For 2013” from its annual IT Symposium this week (see related Forbes article
). Most notable to the team here at Axeda was that the Internet of Things was #4 on the list - ahead of both Big Data and Cloud Computing.
Whether you call it Internet of Things or Machine-to-Machine (M2M), the strategic importance of companies connecting their non-IT assets is becoming hard to ignore. As Gartner laid it out this week, and according to Eric Savitz’s summary in Forbes:
- Over 50% of Internet connections are things
- In 2011, over 15 billion things on the Web, with 50 billion+ intermittent connections.
- By 2020, over 30 billion connected things, with over 200 billion with intermittent connections.
Over the last two years, Gartner has led the thought leadership behind the trend of IT and OT (Operational Technology) convergence. This matters to the CIO audience, because as Gartner predicted this week:
- By 2015, in more than 70% of enterprises, a single exec will oversee all Internet connected things.
This responsibility will most likely fall with the CIO. And it won’t only be the performance of these assets, but also how the flood of data coming from the assets is gathered, processed, stored, and utilized for the gain of their enterprises.
Gartner recently released a new report: Market Trends: IT Services for Machine-to-Machine Communications, U.S., 2012. It discusses how System Integrators and “vendors to watch” like Axeda are well positioned to help IT organizations successfully take on machine data management and integration projects. View the report for free at www.axeda.com.
Hot off the presses… a new M2M report from Gartner: Market Trends: IT Services for Machine-to-Machine Communications, U.S., 2012. The gist of the report is this: while the carriers, MNOs and MVNOs are making great progress in providing connectivity for machines, external service providers and system integrators (SIs) will provide the end solutions and deliver greater value to companies by enhancing business processes and integrating machine data into the enterprise. This makes total sense since M2M projects are becoming more strategic, more complex and larger in scope... teeing up the need for the program management and the advanced integration skills of SIs.
Historically, connecting machines was driven by a single point solution, often remote monitoring or service. Companies now realize that machine data can be leveraged by almost every functional organization. The real value in M2M comes from taking that data and integrating with enterprise systems such as CRM, ERP, or data warehouses — optimizing critical business processes and essentially M2M-izing organizations. For example, machine data flowing through a CRM or ERP system can also be sent to billing or into a supply chain management system — helping to eliminate error-prone manual steps and providing new sales opportunities for business processes such as consumables management, usage-based billing, and warranty management. SIs are in the best position to deliver these solutions.
In fact, here at Axeda, we are seeing tremendous momentum with our system integration partners who deliver integration with SAP, Oracle, Salesforce.com and other enterprise systems. IT organizations are taking on machine data management and integration projects and relying on SIs for help. Axeda is providing the core platform for connecting, device management, and application enablement while the SIs are providing program management and implementation skills. More and more, M2M projects are becoming less about device management and more like traditional IT projects focused on data integration and end-user applications. Essentially, M2M projects have become focused on analytics, business process enhancement and new innovative applications… the result is delivering more value from connected products!
View a full copy of the Gartner report at www.axeda.com.
Axeda plus Salesforce.com equals ConnectForce?
I have just returned back to Boston from Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce event. Wow… what a week! I have seen the future and not only are all products connected to the cloud, they are all connected back to the enterprise…with all that machine data populating records in CRM, ERP and BI systems… enhancing business processes with real-time accurate data of on the health, status and usage of products.
I have to admit, Salesforce.com is doing all the right things… not just for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the entire industry. In fact, Dreamforce has become more than an event, it’s a movement. In fact, 3 movements simultaneously: all applications will be cloud-based, will work on mobile devices and be social. And yes, even machines will be social… talking to the social enterprise.
At Axeda, we are very excited about the work we have done with Salesforce.com. They have become the preeminent “worker cloud”, and we are driving to be the preeminent “machine cloud”. Together, 1 + 1 = 3. The machine cloud will feed the worker cloud to make companies more efficient, more effective, more knowledgeable and more valuable. In fact, Marc Benioff’s keynote started with a story around GE and how they are collaborating on a 5-year vision with machine data at the heart of the vision:
Marc Benioff Highlights Man, Machines, and Social Networks in Dreamforce Keynote
Salesforce wants to be the company that connects customer, partners and employees… the company that enables them to collaborate and be social to improve communication and knowledge exchange. And now they want to be the company that connects products and machine data as well. (See slide below from Keynote). The one hole in his keynote… he fails to say “How”. That’s where Axeda comes in. As this connected social enterprise vision becomes a reality, companies will need a solution to manage their connected products… a category of solution we call “Connected Product Management”. It’s what we do and have done for the last decade. Thank you Mr. Benioff for bringing so much attention to our market. The Axeda Machine Cloud is ready.
Last Tuesday, we delivered a joint webinar with GlobalLogic, entitled “Capitalizing on the mHealth Opportunity with Connected Products.” Thanks to all of you who participated. For those of you who could not attend, we encourage you to access the recording.
During the webinar, we detailed the top mHealth business drivers for product manufacturers and solution providers. GlobalLogic then shared best practices on implementation and concluded with an overview of VitalsNOW, a connected medical device framework based on the Axeda M2M Cloud Service.
Demonstrated at Axeda Connexion ’12, VitalsNOW can help speed up the commercial implementation of your mHealth solution. Use case scenarios range from vital sign monitoring in an ambulatory/home setting to monitoring multiple patients with multiple connected products. The framework supports a variety of medical devices (pulse oximeters to blood pressure monitors to others); custom hardware, cellular modems, and even Androids; leverages the rich functionality of the Axeda Platform; and has built-in functions (device status, reporting, alerts) and supports multiple platforms (Web, PC, tablet, smart phone).
GlobalLogic is available to demonstrate VitalsNOW. If mHealth is vital to your business, we want to hear from you!
You don’t need to look any further than our daily news headlines for how mHealth (also referred to as mobile health or telemedicine) is shortening the distance between doctors and patients in improving and delivering critical care to the far reaches of the globe.
mHealth is quickly emerging as the fastest-growing M2M segment with these impressive growth estimates:
- mHealth-related symposiums, conferences, and tradeshows are at record highs.
- Google hits for mHealth will more than double from last year to ~300,000 in 2012.
- mHealth revenues are projected to grow to $32.5 billion globally by 2018 ― up from 13.2 billion in 2011.
With countless life-saving stories involving the elderly and the critically ill, it’s easy to see how mHealth has become such as media darling. But what is the key enabler to mHealth’s success in achieving such hyper growth?
Medical product manufacturers and solution providers view connected products as the key to combating rising costs and generating more revenue by enabling healthcare organizations to extend patient care to more and more remote locations, including households.
With simplified connectivity, cloud-based application platforms, and organizations to create tailored solutions, everything from pill dispensers to dialysis machines to patient monitoring devices and more are becoming connected products.
So, what are five ways in which medical product manufacturers and solution providers are capitalizing on the mHealth opportunity?
- Remotely monitor equipment in improving asset uptime and operation (without patient involvement)
- Automate the software patch delivery process in reducing costly service visits
- Send treatment data directly from the equipment to doctors in delivering real-time information and avoiding patient transport/visits
- Monitor solution levels for automated resupply in increasing consumable revenue
- Track equipment for improved inventory management and auditing
Interested in learning more? Join Axeda and GlobalLogic for an upcoming Webinar: Capitalizing on the mHealth Opportunity with Connected Products.
As most of our readers know, Axeda has a long history of serving the manufacturing market – where machine downtime can cost more than $1 million per day. Our company was founded on the idea that if we could make machines talk, and arm manufacturers with the ability to talk back, that we could fundamentally change the way that mission-critical products are monitored, serviced, and developed.
The options for how these connected products talk have seen a significant evolution over the last couple of years. Specifically in the industrial manufacturing market, equipment is now more intelligent, produced based on PLC, CNC, SCADA, and PC technologies, with some level of wired or wireless connectivity now standard.
Next week, we will host a webinar with AT&T, our leading wireless partner, where you can learn more about how industrial manufacturers are remotely collecting, monitoring, and analyzing the machine data for greater uptime, cost reductions, and improved productivity.
We hope that you will plan to join us and learn how these types of solutions can benefit your company.
If you are reading this you have almost certainly seen the partnership announcement from Axeda and AT&T. If you haven’t, read it now.
I am particularly excited about this announcement, because it strengthens an already important relationship to the M2M industry. As I have said many times in this forum, M2M is hard. To deliver an M2M application a company must:
- Communications enable a product
- Get a carrier to provide airtime and ensure proper coverage
- Get your product validated on the carrier network
- Provision the product on the carrier network once it deploys
- Manage the product’s billing and carrier network operation
- Develop a cloud service that listens to your product
- Integrate that cloud service into your business and business processes
And, oh by the way, make sure that all of this works together, can operate at scale, and is secure!
To lower this bar, the M2M industry has been developing modular components that make it easier to do one part of this stack or the other. For example, Axeda provides a cloud based M2M application platforms, Jasper carrier network provisioning, companies like Telit provide hardware modules, AT&T airtime – but putting it all together – still big work.
What the relationship with Axeda signals is that AT&T is taking the industry lead in corralling the disparate parts of M2M and creating a unifying experience for its customers that will simplify M2M adoption, improve its support experience, and reduce costs. In this agreement, AT&T and Axeda have made a commitment to each other and the industry to make M2M EASY.
For more on this topic, check out my earlier blog: “M2M Gets a KISS
The general problem with point solutions is that they are point solutions.
Point solutions, as a rule, do a good job solving the specific problems they were designed to solve. The flip side is that they do nothing else. Point solutions just aren’t designed to look beyond their silo.
For a modern enterprise – that’s a big problem!
A modern enterprise could contain hundreds of M2M point solutions. These point solutions represent islands of information that will prevent full organizational efficiency from being achieved.
Remember how hard it was to get your sales force automation system to talk to your financial system. A million dollars, a bunch of high priced consultants, and maybe you’ll get a simple integration. (Oh by the way, it will break as soon one of the systems is upgraded.)
Now what happens if you want your fleet management system to integrate with your vending management system and both of them to interact with your supply chain automation system -> sounds like a problem.
A better solution for M2M is to base all of your organization’s device (or product) interactions and applications on a single M2M platform. An M2M platform acts as a system of record for all real-time device communication. It provides shape to those real-time data sources and gives them a web-orientated programmable representation. In effect, an M2M platform normalizes an organization’s device interactions and provides a hub for organizational optimization.
The real power of M2M is using one real-time source of information to automate a myriad of business processes. A single source of M2M data will likely touch many aspects of your business – the last thing that you want is to go to the trouble instrumenting your devices - only to find their use is limited.
For M2M - think platform.