By Chris Baker and Cheng Kian Khor
Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology, or the “Internet of things" (IoT), is set to transform our world, from helping consumers save money with smarter power usage to increasing safety with connected vehicles.
And the industry is entering a period of tremendous growth. Gartner estimates there will be more than 200 billion M2M connections by 2020, and communications service providers (CSPs) — with their broadband and mobile networks and connected devices — will play a major role. The explosion in the number of Internet-connected devices also corresponds with the shift in the traditional CSP business model from a carrier-centric market to one based on connectivity between carrier networks, third-party cloud and M2M devices, and real-time analytics tools. To bring this vision to reality there needs to be an obsessive desire for standardization of platform. In an Internet of things world the application is key, therefore a standard platform is mandatory — one that scales, is secure and allows "write once, deploy many times" is the only option in this rapidly changing world. Java provides that platform from device to data center.
This paradigm shift represents a great opportunity not only for CSPs, but for system integrators, value added resellers (VARS) and other channel partners to expand their offerings and grow market share. Capturing that opportunity will require sophisticated capabilities that stretch from individual connected devices scattered around the world to powerful business analytics tools back in the data center. Channel partners, however, are well-positioned to provide CSPs with value-added technology and managed services to realize the full potential of M2M. Building on a standard platform allows a quick time to market and return for channel partners.
Capitalizing on Open M2M Platforms
By developing open, adaptable technologies that complement CSPs’ existing networks, channel partners can significantly grow their bottom lines. It will take strategic planning to meet evolving customer and CSP expectations and create mutually beneficial partnerships with vendors and carriers, but if they leverage the opportunity correctly, channel partners can stand to benefit significantly — and in some cases, are already benefitting — from growth in the M2M space.
CSPs are demanding open, flexible technology platforms to meet the connectivity, billing, and data demands for their new M2M lines of business. By developing co-branded relationships with CSPs, channel partners can capitalize on this need, distinguish their offerings from the competition and increase sales. Further, by leveraging standardized technology in these relationships, agents and resellers can become key enablers for products and services in many markets, industries and services.
CSPs are still evolving to meet new market demands. They need to grow new revenue streams by delivering innovative M2M applications with sophisticated billing capabilities to better handle the variety and volume of connected devices. Traditional billing systems based on call detail records are not going to cut it for M2M services, as these devices can generate huge amounts of sensor and telemetry data. Further, CSPs need open content and development platforms that enable service providers to bring new M2M implementations and applications — that function across various scenarios and market verticals — to market quickly.