Plug & Play Mindsets and the Heartache of Self Diagnosis

M2M - The Industry

You know that more than half of the people in the North America self-diagnose on the Internet. That means that people think they have a disease, note the symptoms and then research the possible maladies that they think they have…all on the Internet.  I have to admit to doing this myself. I have a keen interest in preserving my health and there is a morbid curiosity that I think we all share, and perhaps a pre-med degree (mine was economics). But I can tell you much to the chagrin of my wife that I have never read a manual. Everything I learn about technology is from people telling me things.  Why is it that when we know nothing about something technically, we are willing to call anyone to figure it out with us?

Given our clear predilection about understanding technology and passing information along on an app or operating system, it doesn’t translate to our health. We tend to never talk to anyone about it. For example, we never discuss a wart or a growth on your body, yet almost everyone knows the AT command AT+COPS=? …but does anyone know what AT stands for? The answer is yes. Everyone knows it because they were told this command and they know what it does. Yet, no one wants to discuss their warts.

So is researching your health on-line a good idea? Doctors say yes, generally it is. There are of course the obvious pluses and minuses of extreme reactions and actions. So why do we not read technical manuals? If we ship a modem to a customer, they generally feel free to call for support. Let me add that almost no one reads the manual or online information before calling or emailing for help. Of course we are here to help, but at the same time we tend to gently nudge them in the direction of the manuals (on line resources) because they are an excellent source of info that is 24X7.  If it’s a good idea to self-diagnose your health concerns on the internet, think how useful it would be to read about a modem or other gadget that you just purchased.

We live in a very technologically advanced world, but it seems that there are fewer and fewer people who know how to make things work and generally more and more people who understand how things should work. In our industry we refer to this as “plug and play”. I think the bane of our existence is that people believe technology is “plug and play”.  It’s not, at least in our M2M bubble. So I challenge and encourage everyone to read all available online resources before you call. I promise it will make your interaction with the technical support people much more rewarding.


M2M Standards: The Elusive Silver Bullet

M2M - The Industry

We should never use the word "ecosystem" when we are talking about M2M because it implies that things are codependent for existence. I know one thing for sure – nothing is co-dependent in our M2M market space.

Look – I wish for universal standards as much as the next guy, but after 20 years in the business, the market is still characterized by small struggling firms who are trying to hit an ever-moving, very small target. There isn't time for universal standards when you are struggling to keep the lights on. With the bigger players like IBM, SAP and Oracle putting a toe in the water, universal standards seem promising. But this industry was built on proprietary standards and the idea that our collective DNA is going to go through a metamorphosis and become something universally standardized… well, I just don’t see it. Let’s face it – customers, OEMs and carriers all have a vested interest in keeping the situation the same. It is the consultants and integrators that really desire the change.

Change will come. I just don’t think it will be by way of sweeping reforms and/or a silver bullet. Keep in mind that it took 20 years to get the proprietary applications and products selling well, so what makes anyone think that any new standard is going to sweep out the old?

Going forward it appears clear that some standards are going to take hold. Consider Microsoft and Apple who got a lot of their ideas from Xerox and then commercialized them. I think that this is the path for our market, more of a think tank derived solution that is commercialized by others, as opposed to a commercialization of a solution to benefit some of the large consultancies. Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT) comes to mind as a first stab at trying to standardize our M2M market place, but I couldn't predict its adoption or even survival. Chances are it will not succeed, but it is a start.

While I'm at it I wish people would stop saying "deep dive", "Internet of Everything" and "Internet of Things" – Machine-to-Machine is just fine. I certainly don’t need Cisco telling me what to call my industry. After all, I was here 19 1/2 years before they were.