M2M enables new business models

This post was published on M2M Daily March 15, 2012: http://www.m2mdaily.com/m2m-editorials/m2m-enables-new-business-models/

Many industries end up in the huge global market with ever increasing competition putting immense pressure on cost, performance, functionality, service, etc. One approach to change game plan is to change business model from selling products to selling functionality. Something-as-a-service and pay-per-use are concepts along those lines. It is likely that clients in general prefer such offerings since it feels fair to pay for use, it feels good not to have to take care of product problems and in relevant cases it’s great not even having to host or see the products. For vendors it is easier to manage manufacturing, production and service if they own the products, they improve R&D since they get to know everything about the product life cycle but they will get their revenues distributed over maybe 34 to 60 months instead of up front. That is horrifying and require a lot of change to any company going down this path.

M2M is a key enabler to business transformation. Today we can connect products to the vendor’s relevant systems for planning, maintenance, financial reporting, invoicing, support, etc. From a technical point of view this enables change of business model to for example a pay per use model. Since we can monitor, control and manage the products remotely we can constantly improve everything that relates to the product during its life cycle including preventive maintenance, tune for more efficient energy consumption, decrease downtime due to alarms, make software upgrades over the air, etc. These are obviously relevant benefits also with a traditional business model but the point is that with full control of a product through out its life a service oriented business model looks more attractive.All of this is pure technical and no one should underestimate the complexity from a business, organization, systems and management point of view to make changes like this. But still, M2M makes it technically possible today.

We see an increasing number of cases where companies connect their products but it is most often to improve a specific thing like maintenance. And the risk is that the technical implementation works for the purpose but can’t support  the next request coming up somewhere else in the company. It is still quite rare that vendors also change the business model but there are interesting examples of companies who do. Innovative business models seem more for newcomers than for established businesses. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! Well, if it is a good idea someone will do it and it might be disruptive.

I would argue that now is the time for companies to start look into these things. Keep an eye of what competitors and players in adjacent industries does, start play with ideas of what we could do if we connected our products and what the results would be. And most importantly, if you decide to get going, ensure you build a solution supporting needs you might have over the life time of the products.

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