As we embark upon this journey with exciting new realities for M2M like the emergence of smart cities, smart vehicles and proactive maintenance, I would urge business leaders to consider mobile devices and service management platforms working in harmony with Machine to Machine as a considerable advantage when optimizing man and machine.
The emergence of new ideas
What exciting times we live in. Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (AKA SMAC for the acronym lovers or Nexus of Forces) are maturing and being hailed for offering new levels of flexibility for organizations looking to do more with less. I would add M2M to the SMAC stack as another technology that has enormous potential to transform business models and services.
Field service leading the way for mobile and M2M
Back in the early ‘noughties’ field service professionals were using enterprise applications on (admittedly clunky) mobile devices. The field service sector pretty much pioneered enterprise mobility before it was a thing, before consumers even knew what a smartphone was.
The same is happening with M2M, as quite often connected devices expand the reach and intelligence of organizations beyond the four walls of the office. Field service organizations typically have employees that work out of the office installing, maintaining or repairing equipment. Some of them are riggers on an oil platform, cable television installers, emergency gas repair crews and individuals responsible for servicing life-support systems. Field workers benefit more than most from information delivered on mobiles. Just like enterprise mobility, the nature of the sector and the machine-based assets with which technicians work, we are also seeing field service as a hotbed of advancements for M2M.
Mobile and M2M working together
The true power of mobile and M2M is not as standalone technologies, but as part of connected platforms that share information, join business processes and optimize operations. So, for example, a sensor in a traffic signal could recognize a failing bulb and trigger an alert to the mobile device of the nearest engineer. Great news for the city, no gridlock, no extra pollution, no accidents. The service model has moved from reactive (pain has already occurred) to proactive where congestion disaster has been avoided.
As I mention above, the future is to take this into a connected platform, where technology works together to deliver unprecedented levels of efficiency. Rather than just push an alert to a mobile device, the information distributed by the machine’s sensors triggers a series of tasks that, enabled by technology, work in concert to deliver optimized services at the minimum cost. As an example, that alert from the stop light goes to a central scheduling engine which then considers the problem, the parts available in stock, the engineers with the skills needed to fix that particular asset, their locations, the time of day, etc. When the engineer is selected, all the information they could possibly require is delivered to their smartphone, phablet, tablet or rugged device, including GPS guiding them to the location, the asset in question, schematics, maybe even augmented reality which guides the individual to its exact location. They could then sign off the job, even take photos if they wish.
All this information captured by machines and on mobile out in the field becomes invaluable. Technicians can scrutinize individual jobs in real-time, or executives the long-term data so that they can predict issues, be proactive in addressing them and prevent problems in the future.
Mobile and machines will push data into the cloud and bring into play analytics that can be shared across social to deliver more efficient operating models. With this, our understanding of our service realms will be significantly increased to derive efficiencies and service improvements in completely new ways and positively contribute to the utilization of both M2M and IoT.
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