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.