For many companies, wireless has been the domain of the purchasing department.  When wireless only meant voice, this made sense.  Devices were relatively the same in terms of functionality, and the offering from the carriers was also similar, with features like pooling, device to device calling and simplified billing often being more important than the functionality of the devices and network.With the introduction of smartphones about a decade ago, the IT department started to have more interest in this area.  Devices provided access to Corporate email systems, meaning there was more potential for security issues, so it became imperative that these devices complied with Corporate security policies.  The introduction of wirelessly enabled tablets further pushed this envelope forward allowing some workers to completely abandoned traditional PC devices, so the tablet was the main method of accessing key corporate data such as access to secure documents.So, where has M2M traditionally fit in?  Well, it depends on the company.  For companies who used M2M as part of its data collection network (such as Oil/Gas and Utilities), M2M often fell under Operations for the choice of device and purchasing for the activation.  Traditionally, these devices fell outside of the company's main network and the information was not always effectively shared beyond Operations to other departments such as Customer services and Sales.  For other companies, M2M devices were used in place of traditional landline connections, so the choice of devices and services usually fell under the Telecom department.  Today, M2M devices are considered to be vital devices for many businesses, and as such, are starting to gather more interest right at the top....namely the CTO.

So, why does a CTO want to care about M2M?

M2M devices are being used as primary connection points, even in places where landlines are available.  For many businesses, wireless connections are no longer being used as a back-up to landline, but rather as the primary connection themselves.  This could be in a retail environment, at temporary jobs sites, when work is done on 3rd party premises or for mobile workers.  As such, these devices not only need to provide access to key services but also need to be monitored using traditional IT monitoring tools.  CTOs need to ensure that these devices are using proper authentication, establishing/maintaining secure connections and are providing the uptime that is required for effective remote work.

M2M = Big Data   One of the biggest trends in the entire technology space is Big Data, namely, how does a company collect, secure, analyze and protect all of the data that it receives?  How do you ensure that the data is available to all of those who need it, and packaged in a way that allows key workers to get the information quickly?  M2M is just starting to become a huge generator of Big data.....key information from remote devices is being fed into key systems to allow for better decisions to be made.  This information is key to optimize the Trouble ticketing systems, give sales/CS personnel up to date information for customers or provide key updates for maintenance crews to keep equipment up and running.  Forward-thinking CTOs can use M2M to get the key data that their teams need, when they need it, and deliver it in a way that allows for quick and informed decisions to be made.  So, it is imperative that M2M data can be integrated into payroll, inventory, CRM and billing systems.....no small feat!

CTOs need to do more with less  In a perfect world, all the key systems would be located close to each other and there would be no travel required to support IT systems.  While IP based monitoring systems are great, M2M solutions make them better.  Most IT departments have used Out of Band Management solutions for years to monitor / make changes to key servers.  However, most of this communication is being done over a traditional POTS line.  These lines added a monthly expense and were limited in access speed.  Many forward-thinking CTOs are looking at wireless data solutions for OOB management.  These devices provide a great method of accessing key servers securely while also providing a redundant connection for in-band traffic if the main line were to have issues.  So, two functions with one box, and you only pay for the traffic that you need.  

Going green is also important for CTO  One way that future thinking CTOs are helping the green effort is by using M2M solutions to reduce unnecessary trips out to clients locations.  Besides meaning unwanted downtime, these trips also drive up travel time and increase fuel/vehicle costs.  Instead, they are using M2M solutions to monitor equipment such as vending machines, business-grade photocopiers and kiosks.  Now, when these devices are not working properly or are running low on key consumables (such as printer ink or paper), alerts are sent to key staff to ensure that changes can either be done over the air (such as resets or config changes) or key items are replenished before they run out.  It also means that unnecessary trips to restock items aren't done when machines are used less than anticipated. This means lower travel costs, less unwanted visits and repairs, better uptime and happier customers....going green also saves some "green"!

Compliance made easier....somewhat  For some industries, there is a high level of compliance, whether it be industry-based or from an agency of the government.  Some of these industries include Oil/Gas, manufacturing, Utilities and pipelines.  For the most part, these compliance issues have fallen under the responsibility of the Operations team, and many times, they are often handled using the old stand-by of "pen and paper".  Many industries have started to use M2M to automate many of these processes, whether it is providing usage data, ensuring that key maintenance is done on time or keeping track of the storage levels of key chemicals.  M2M solutions provide a way to reduce the clerical costs, as well as to provide quick information in the event of an audit.

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with any of your M2M needs!