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Innovation and M2M

There is an very interesting article on the Connected World website entitled Disrupting Innovation. The premise of this article is that innovation is not a one-shot event. Instead innovation is about “establishing a process that an organization can follow” and that can be integrated into an overall corporate strategy. In essence, innovation for innovation’s sake it worthless – it only takes on meaning within the larger context of the corporate mission.

This concept is absolutely on target for Machine-to-Machine (M2M) systems. Basic M2M hit the marketplace over a decade ago. At that point in time, many larger corporations adopted an M2M strategy for remote service as a cost control mechanism. A decade later, M2M for remote service is almost considered table stakes. Today more interesting problems are being solved in M2M, such as predictive failure algorithms, remote coaching of machine operators, and optimization of revenue streams for consumables. These newer solutions require integration of M2M with other business systems, such as accounting and inventory. The marketplace will favor those companies that can quickly and efficiently integrate their business systems and automate their business processes. Traditionally, enterprise-side integration and web user interfaces are time-consuming efforts, but newer breeds of M2M systems, including ThingWorx, are speeding up those processes significantly.

In a webcast entitled Smarter Services: The Next Generation Remote Services, Tom Oelsner, the VP of Processes and Systems at Heidelberg, proposes three ingredients for a leap in innovation. The first ingredient is ubiquitous connectivity, the second ingredient is the pervasiveness of intelligent devices, and the third ingredient is the existence of big data in the cloud. When all of these ingredients exist, then real-time smart services are possible. Oelsner has also proposed a “maturity model” for connected devices. In maturity level 1, “immigrant devices” are retrofitted for connectivity and provide basic remote service features. In maturity level 2, “native devices” are introduced that have connectivity as a basic part of their operations – these devices actually require connectivity to operate optimally. In maturity level 3, devices that are not connected are destroyed. In other words, non-connected devices lose all market shares because they cannot compete with connected devices.

The “Internet of things” is not just coming – it is here. As Oelsner’s maturity levels indicate, those companies that do not innovate, particularly around an M2M strategy, will be at a distinct disadvantage.

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