What CEOs Need To Know About M2M – Part 4 (Machine Data Makes its Way into Enterprise Business Systems)
Today’s posting will focus on machine data integration with other enterprise business applications like CRM, ERP and PLM.
In my previous posting on what CEOs need to know about M2M, I referenced the Axeda value curve and discussed level 4, machine data analytics.
Today, we’ll discuss Level 5… business system integration
… how extending your ERP and CRM system with machine data can drive business process efficiencies and optimize processes with accurate machine data.
Companies who were early in bringing their products online are now realizing that the real “gold” in M2M is taking that data and integrating with enterprise systems such as CRM, ERP, PLM or data warehouses. This machine data can be used for optimizing critical business processes and essentially M2M-izing their organizations. I use the term M2Mize to describe this notion… M2Mize essentially means to optimize a business process using M2M data from a connected product or asset.
In last year’s survey of our customers, we discovered that 67% of our customers have integrated or are in the midst of integrating machine data with an enterprise system. Why? What value is machine data to ERP and CRM? What are the benefits of making machine data available to these systems? The answer is simple: many business processes can be improved using machine data. In fact, here’s a list of the top 10 processes that were identified in the survey:
1) Field Service
M2M data from connected assets, in collaboration with other enterprise systems, can provide visibility and automation across organizations not previously possible. For example, product data flowing through a CRM 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 things such as consumable replenishment or warranty renewals. Additionally, integration with quality assurance or product management can help enhance product features based on real-world data that shows usage patterns or equipment issues — helping to improve customer satisfaction and streamlining Beta programs.
2) Customer Service
3) Usage-based Billing
4) Asset Management
5) Consumable Management
6) Warranty Management
8) Configuration Management
10) Product Lifecycle Management
So how does machine data get from the asset to these business systems? The data is first collected and transformed into formats that can be consumed by IT. Most of our customers use Axeda’s built-in Web Services and Integration Framework to access data in our cloud. Our integration framework allows for seamless two-way communications with other enterprise systems and makes it easy to pass asset data, alarms, files, and locations to applications like SAP, Oracle, or Salesforce.com. The platform includes 3 ways to integrate: 1) a modern integration message queue for handling asynchronous communication 2) SOAP or RESTful API’s to call into Axeda and extract data or 3) a scripting engine and APIs to call other external web services from within Axeda.
In my next post, I’ll give several examples of how machine data is working its way into our customers back office systems to improve efficiency or enable new services. This business system integration is a relatively new phenomenon. IT organizations are very good at dealing with traditional web-based business applications but have little experience dealing with machine data and M2M solutions. But M2M application platforms like Axeda are becoming very good at turning raw machine data into standard IT formats and web services that IT can deal with. This is driving rapid expansion of machine data into the enterprise.