Enable M2M trials by proper training

April 8, 2013

STF-200x962013 is the year when M2M aka Internet of Things entered the productivity phase which I have been writing about before. Focus moves from the actual connection to what value comes out. The value we look at in this phase is typically operational thus quantifiable and ROI-calculation friendly. In the next phase, probably as little as 1-2 years away, we will start harvest also the strategic value and that is when industries and society will change drastically.

Already a couple of month into “the year of M2M productivity” I can share a great Swedish example: STF Ingenjörsutbildning is a postgraduate education institute targeting engineers and technicians. They run some 2000 training activities per annum with 15000 attendees, mainly in Sweden but also abroad. STF just announced a one day training on “M2M – from products to services” aiming at providing practical guidance to the attendees. Where to start? Who to turn to? Legal implications? Purchasing considerations? Pitfalls? Hopefully the attendees will have information and confidence enough to start their first in-house project when they come home.

I have been quite involved in this training and believe this is a very important step forward for the industry. We simply need to make people understand the value of M2M for them and give them knowledge enough to start playing around with ideas, prototypes and trials. It is simply not possible to figure out before hand what will happen and which new opportunities we will have when we connect our products. This to me is a great way to drive technology driven innovation.


M2M in its teens – the industry is shifting gear

April 5, 2013
The M2M industry is rapidly leaving the first connectivity focused baby phase – thank god! – and enters the productivity phase. This is where we look at operational issues, capabilities and value. Vendors and operators are preparing themselves to be able to serve the market better and more efficiently. And new partnerships, alliances, initiatives and M&A activities pop up on a daily basis. This is all very good and makes life easier for developers, integrators and customers. But it is more about preparing for the business to take off than making it taking off. It mainly improves the capabilities to deliver in an efficient way.

Today’s initiatives are signs of a developing industry. Building blocks are put together into candidate platforms and architectures. As always most of them will fail over time but still it is an important part of growing up. Let’s look at a couple of recent M2M “teenager activities”:

  • Telefónica and Telit cooperate in M2M Air, providing managed M2M services globally
  • Etisalat group just joined KPN, NTT DOCOMO, Rogers Communications, SingTel, Telefonica, Telstra and VimpelCom in the M2M Multi-Operator Alliance
  • Ericsson and SAP announced a partnership at MWC and talk about the M2M Eco-system
  • Satellite operator Orbcomm acquired MobileNet who provides custom mobile data solutions for the heavy equipment and railroad industries
  • Wipro and Axeda announced a strategic alliance to provide services and end-to-end solutions to help organizations connect with any asset, leverage machine data to enhance business processes and develop new innovative enterprise applications.
  • TeliaSonera, France Telecom-Orange and Deutsche Telekom collaborate to increase the quality of service and interoperability for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications
  • Claro Brazil joins a growing list of Jasper Wireless operator partners including AT&T, América Móvil, NTT DOCOMO, Telefónica, VimpelCom, KPN, SingTel, Etisalat, Telstra, Rogers, CSL and more
  • Several operators including TeliaSonera, Swisscom, XL and have signed up with Ericsson to use DCP for improved M2M service delivery
  • AT&T has several M2M initiatives including AT&T Control Center together with partners like Jasper Wireless, Axeda, Sierra Wireless and SensorLogic.
  • Airbiquity and China Unicom are teaming up to provide telematics services for the Chinese automotive market
  • Vodafone Vehicle Connect and Towers Watson’s ‘DriveAbility’ programme will accelerate the pace at which insurers can get new services to market, and at a competitive cost
Looking at mobile operator subscriptions for M2M, the market continues to grow roughly 25-30% per annum. The number of cellular M2M subscriptions nearly doubled between 2010 and 2012 to reach 143.7 million according to Pyramid Research. They also claim China is growing over 40% per annum and will become the largest cellular M2M market this year. We should remember that a lot of M2M applications share cellular subscriptions or use other technologies to connect.

So operator’s M2M business is growing quite rapidly but from small numbers. In a fairly well-developed M2M market like Sweden, M2M subscriptions are roughly 20% of all mobile subscriptions today. But still most of the market potential is untouched. Policy-driven markets like smart meters, big global markets like connected cars and consumer oriented stand-alone solutions are all fairly well addressed. But small business is big business also when it comes to M2M, and these companies are only addressed by independent Service Enablers, developers, integrators and turn-key solution providers. The alliances, partnerships and M&A activities aren’t reaching that far. A company connecting 100 of their “things” per year in maybe 25 countries across the globe is simply of no interest to any of the large players. The same goes for ,a company who want to develop a specific application to connect 25 of their “things” in a country, unless they are filthy rich.

Success in SME will come from successful platform support for specialist service enablers, developers, integrators and turn-key solution providers. That has little to do with technical issues and a lot to do with trust and business models. This has to be resolved before M2M will grow up.


M2M is not a solution – it’s a way to segment the market

March 15, 2013

Beecham Sector Map kopiaM2M is not a solution. It is a way to segment the market: are we connecting a business, person or a thing to the Internet? The actual connection is of less importance to users – it is what it enables that makes sense. And the data created makes even more sense. We have seen the movie before – when people and business were connected to the Internet we started focusing on the connection. Then we discovered enormous benefits when processes became much more efficient. And finally innovative solutions and business models started change industries upside down. We entered the “as-a-service” era.

Over the last 18 months we have seen a clear change from the 50 billion devices approach to M2M towards a more user oriented approach where a range of M2M solutions are part of the ICT toolbox. If we compare to when Internet arrived we are leaving the connectivity period and enter the enabling user value era. We solve customer problems, we save money, we increase efficiency, we bring cost down or save energy. We create operational value. Previously everyone talked about smart meters and connected vehicles due to the large numbers involved. Now the addressed markets discussed are increasingly granular. The further we go down this road the more critical specialist service enablers become.

Last year the Connected Home pavilion at MWC in Barcelona was an important frequently visited showcase for M2M solutions and M2M was mentioned in most key notes. This year, the Connected City pavilion at MWC was a quite boring and less crowded but in every corner of the show and at every party people discussed what could be done with M2M solutions.

Mobile operators all try to figure out which role to play. Subscriptions alone seem less interesting. Adding device connectivity on top of the network helps deliver a better service. Going after large applications like smart meters, ebooks and connected cars is a no brainer. But how to win and deliver the second and third-tier of opportunities is the thousand dollar question of today. Small business is big business. I am convinced that those who can find a way to collaborate with the specialist service enablers will win. And such collaboration is not a matter of technical integration – it’s all about trust, business models and how to go to market. Our Swedish M2M Service Enablers alliance is always interested in efforts to answer the thousand dollar question of today.


Quantified Self and Healthcare 2.0

March 13, 2013

4.1.1I had the opportunity to attend a lunch with Kevin Kelly last Thursday. Kevin was co-founder of Wired magazine in January 1993 and served as Executive Editor from September 1992 to January 1999. In 2009 Kevin Launched The Quantified Self movement with Gary Wolf and today there are some 200 QS groups. QS Stockholm was founded in April 2012 and we are 253 members by now. QS is covering all aspects of people’s desire to measure themselves. It’s interesting and fun to explore this area but for me it is more than so: it is a key component of Healthcare 2.0.

People challenge healthcare – There are more of us, we live longer and we have better tools. The results are increasingly constrained healthcare resources and more knowledgable individuals. Our objectives must be drastically improved efficiency and a person-centric healthcare and the way forward is a holistic life-long data-centric approach, leverage of technology and involvement of individuals. Banks were able to outsource many of their tasks to their customers, we shop on the Internet, trade shares and order flight tickets and hotel rooms, so why couldn’t healthcare do something similar?

A person-centric life-long healthcare approach should include wellness, fitness, self-care, healthcare and home care and it is in this context Quantify Self can play a pivotal role. People are already collecting data on themselves, using tools like pen and paper, smartphones, pads and computers. Pew Internet & American Life Project claim 7 in 10 American adults tracks a health indicator like weight, diet, exercise or a symptom. But half say they track “in their heads” and about a fifth use technology. The QS movement can be used as a rich source of innovative self-tracking methods and tools. And it constitutes a great test bench for all kind of real life tests.

Putting easy-to-use tools in the hands of curious people always enable innovation. It is an alternative approach to research which often brings unexpected results. The rewards of progress in the health field are huge regardless if we measure financial savings or increased quality of life. eHealth, mHealth or rather Health is one of the most interesting application areas for M2M solutions.


Mobile World Congress 2013

March 3, 2013


MWC2013Mobile World Congress 2013 is over and some 72.000 visitors and 1.700 exhibiting companies have gone home. The new location – Fira Gran Via – was more “professional” and space, logistics, food, etc was better. But on the other hand, it is far away from down town Barcelona which made people spend much more time in the traffic. And at a couple of occasions the traffic turned really bad.

I have obviously not seen everything and met everyone so my conclusions have no trace of science:

The over-all impression was quite boring rather then exciting. Devices, boxes, antennas and software architectures all over the place and the devices really look the same. Is this a sign of commoditization? The very serious fact that Europe is seriously behind in LTE usage (4% of subscribers world-wide acc. to GSA) should make a lot of Europeans nervous. Our entrepreneurs in the European mobile industry might start move to the US like IT entrepreneurs have done for many years.

The value of MWC continues to be the interaction between people from the same industry across the world why parties and sub-events continue to be important. The 5:th Swedish Mobile Association-party on Monday was spectacular again and my job as bouncer was as easy as all previous years.

There is a growing number of visitors and exhibitors from other industries mainly due to M2M. I guess there were 20 more or less connected cars to look at but I also found exhibitors like Assa Abloy with their connected locks in a small both. I believe this increased focus on what to use the mobile network for is a good development – maybe the event should be divided in two: building and operating networks – using networks.

M2M was everywhere but the heavily promoted GSMA Connected City part of the event I unfortunately found quite dull. In the far end of Hall 3, few visitors, a lot of screens with presentations and no real energy or “heat” (if we exclude the Gangnam Style dancers from KT). And I couldn’t find anything about OTA provisioning of SIMs which was demonstrated by GSMA last year. Connected cars was clearly the most discussed topic in M2M followed by mHealth. I believe it is a sound development that focus on M2M itself disappears (no customer has ever asked me for M2M) and that we start discuss real problems with real customers. The industry needs to be able to create value for the huge SMB market and not only the multi-nationals, consumers and governments. That is the key challenge for M2M today.

Ericsson’s Key Note event Tuesday night was a highlight: well structured and executed with M2M and Networked Society as a leading theme. And finally Vestberg invited Avicii on stage and then they launched a new song right there, XYOU based on a crowd-sourcing process. The thing I really liked was that they showed the Twitter feed from when Avicii entered the stage and when they played the new song we could see it spreading over the Internet on another huge screen. Well thought through and executed! I’m not sure everyone in the audience understood what was going on but my 17 years old daughter was really impressed already by the SMS I sent her.

My choice of coolest product at the show was also in the Ericsson hall. Under the banner “Windows of Opportunities” they demonstrated four connected windows solving real problems. My favorite was the one for skyscrapers which generates electricity from light coming in. I hope they have solid patents in place!

Personally my highlight of the week was outside of MWC. I was invited by Prof. Aninyda Ghosh, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the great IESE Business School, to give a speech on Parallel Entrepreneurship. I enjoyed every minute!


Swedish M2M Services Enablers – now 10 members and 5 sponsors including 4 operators

February 19, 2013

smseM2M Service Enablement is the “magic” turning generic communication services into specific applications in an affordable and scalable way. Users need applications addressing their needs and the role of M2M Service Enablers is to make it easier, faster and cheaper to develop, implement and maintain such applications. But M2M Service Enablement is complex and requires communication and IT skills together with serious understanding of the industry or function to serve. Service Enablers need to be specialized since only the companies understanding the context of the data can deliver to the customers according to their expectations. “Connecting things and gather data in the cloud” is already too generic.

The Service Enablement market will be specialized and industry focused. But still it has to become international for M2M to really take off. Today the M2M Device Connectivity part of it is quite international but most Specialist Service Enablers are domestic. And while Device Connectivity solutions enable operators to deliver better and more granular services, Specialist Service Enablers are needed to bring new customers.

In order to try push Service Enablement to become international I started a small alliance called Swedish M2M Service Enablers a year ago. Today two new members joined and we are now ten companies. But we also announced four new sponsors of our initiative, are mobile operators. This gives us more weight and power which is needed to move the internationalization forward.

The purpose of the alliance is to educate the market, promote Sweden as a great place to go to for Service Enablement solutions and to promote the individual members abroad. We welcome invites to collaborate, discuss, speak and most importantly make business together. A number of such relationships are already in place but we can manage many more. Just keep them coming! Next opportunity is to ask for me in the Swedish Pavilion at Mobile World Congress, hall 7 (stand 7E80).


Inspiring example: The thermostat Jobs would have loved

February 13, 2013

nest tstatThe power of M2M is the ability to enable drastic changes in an industry. To do things differently. To change the game. Like in the early days of Internet we still focus on connecting things. That is good and makes us faster, cheaper, greener, etc. But it doesn’t change the game. It is when the technology is used to completely re-think and re-design something the power is released.

A wonderful example is thermostats. The “father of the iPod”, Tony Fadell, created the “learning thermostat” after having stumbled over expensive, dumb and ugly thermostats for the green house he was building. He created the gorgeously designed Nest which has been shipping for more than a year now. It is said to be compatible with 95% of the American and Canadian low voltage residential heating and cooling market by now. This little sexy device can remove some 20% of the heating and cooling energy bill and cost $250 US. Nest is now shipping 40-50K units per months and investors continue betting on Nest which now is said to be valued to $800 million US.

People normally don’t bother about thermostats but this easy to install and use, wonderfully designed and intelligent darling that saves people money has become a best-seller at Amazon, at Lowe’s and on Apple’s online store. It uses a number of sensors to understand the life-style of the household and adjusts heating and cooling in an optimal way. Beyond the information on the device itself it communicates with people’s smartphones and pads.

Innovative new approaches in established industries are always challenged by established players and Nest is already involved in legal battles. But I think we only have seen the beginning of Nest. Now they address consumers right away, seducing them with design and a good cause. But the device is Wi-Fi and ZigBee enabled thus ready for the Utilities and the Smart Grids. Is there a reason for a Utility to install another device in a home where a Nest already is in place?


Inspiring example: Tethercell lets you master things on AA-batteries

January 15, 2013
tethercellPeople are working hard to find clever ways to embed connectivity into things in a cheap, scalable and non-complicated fashion. Tethercell is an excellent example of that! By re-designing the content of the most used standard battery – AA – they make you able to master and control a whole lot of things from your iPhone. Parents with kids using noisy toys can secretly turn them off when they had too much for example. The product which looks like an AA battery includes advanced technology and an AAA-battery for power. It is remotely managed via Bluetooth 4.0 and a free IOS-app. Bluetooth 4.0 is the latest revision of the wireless protocol and it brings primarily much better power efficiency through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also referred to as Bluetooth Smart.
The product allows you to turn AA-powered devices on and off remotely, give alerts when power is low and it allows you to set simple timers and device schedules to save battery power.
Tethercell is yet another crowdfunded product using indiegogo.com and with about a month ago they have raised about 25% of the $59 000 US they aim for. $35 US gives you one battery and the app to control it and estimated landing is June 2013. 

Inspiring example: find what you are looking for

January 7, 2013
sticknfindSolving real problems is a good foundation for entrepreneurs. And finally finding what we are looking for is something we all like. StickNFind is a promising solution built on Bluetooth technology together with IOS and Android. You simply put your very small Bluetooth stickers on your keys, pets, children backpacks or whatever you want to keep an eye on. The receivers are similar in size as a quarter-dollar coin and quite thin. The replaceable battery lasts for about a year. When you use the StickNFind mobile app to find things you can even light the label up and make it vibrate to help localize the item. But you can only locate things about 30 meters away. One can also use StickNFind to tell when tagged things are coming within range like the bag at the airport convey belt or getting out of range like your turtle trying to escape. Two labels are sold for $35 US but you can have many more managed from one phone.
StickNFind Technologies use Indiegogo to crowd finance their product and with just a couple of days left they have raised almost ten times the $70.000 US they aimed at.

EU moves forward towards EU-wide eCall solution

December 28, 2012

freeimage-5240129The European Union took yet another step towards an interoperable EU-wide eCall solution when the Commission just adopted a Regulation which establishes the specifications for the upgrading of the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) infrastructure required for the proper receipt and handling of eCalls. eCall is a key initiative to meet the target of halving the overall number of road deaths in the European Union by 2020 starting from 2010.

According to EU: Road safety is an issue of major concern across the entire European Union and for all of its inhabitants: 500 million citizens in the 27 Member States use more than 230 million vehicles on over 5 million km of roads. The purpose of the interoperable EU-wide eCall initiative is to introduce in all vehicles in Europe the minimum functionalities needed to ensure adequate handling of the emergency calls by the emergency response services. Currently, road journeys exceed 100 million annually across the various Member States and they are increasing due to further consolidation of the European Union (through the free movement of goods, people and services). Road safety is one of the major policy issues of Transport Policy in the European Union. In 2009 around 35,000 people were killed and more than 1.5 million injured in about 1.15 million traffic accidents on EU roads. In addition to the tragedy of loss of life and injury, this also carries an economic burden representing approximately EUR 130 billion of cost for society.

I believe this is a typical area where agreements on a standard infrastructure makes a lot of sense. We will save lives, pain, money, time and the environment while establishing an infrastructure which will support the development of the EU region for many years. A common PSAP could obviously be used for more than eCall and will set a standard for certain international services which will help us in the critical effort to make M2M an international business. 


%d bloggers like this: