M2M 101: How Machine-to-Machine Technology Works
I first heard about machine-to-machine (M2M) and its amazing potential when covering a Toronto M2M conference two years ago. During the conference, I learned M2M could be used to remotely monitor and control various functions of our homes and businesses. Since then, the possible uses for M2M in your business have only multiplied. That’s why the Bell Business Blog is launching this new series on M2M technology.
Welcome to the first part in the series: a primer on how M2M works and why more businesses are tapping into it.
The 411 on M2M
M2M technology basically involves machines and devices communicating information to each other. M2M applications translate that information into data that’s relevant to the end user. The data is analyzed and monitored based on those specifications. Certain data trigger automated actions that are pre-programmed to take place. The machines communicate with each other (and with users) remotely. So you can manage the process (and the machines) from anywhere.
Here’s an example. Say you run a business preparing frozen food and delivering it to grocery stores. M2M technology can track the location of all the trucks and how quickly they get to each store. It can also alert you when a truck is low on fuel or needs repairs. (In addition, it can actually send an automatic request for a maintenance appointment to your mechanic). Sensors can monitor the temperature in the refrigerated trucks, and if the temperature gets too high, M2M can be programmed to lower it so the food stays frozen.
In our food prep facility example, M2M can also do things like monitor and control the temperature in the storage coolers, turn on the building’s alarm system, track inventory levels and automatically order more ingredients when needed.
The business benefits of M2M are easy to see. M2M allows you to set targets, keep track of things and control them remotely in an automated, real time, mobile way. (You can use your smartphone or tablet to monitor and manage many M2M systems from almost anywhere with the right apps.) This saves time and money you would have otherwise spent on travelling to various locations, checking on operations, diagnosing potential problems and taking required action. The automation features within M2M take care of all that for you.
In the next part of this series, we’ll provide more examples of how M2M can be used in industries such as transportation, construction, retail, manufacturing, security, IT and digital signage. In fact, Bell’s range of M2M solutions can help businesses in all of those sectors to plan, design, deploy and manage a variety of M2M services to meet their needs.
The bottom line
M2M is a technology you can harness for greater control of your business productivity and costs, and it’s grown from a nascent technology just a few years ago into one that offers real business value for many firms today. With the right service partner offering M2M expertise, there’s no telling what potential this could hold for your business within the next couple of years.
Is your business already using some form of M2M technology? If so, how are you using it? What impact has it had on your business?