In Part 1 of this blog post, I looked at some unique competitors in the world of M2M that we need to face in order to see the incredible growth that we all cherish. Different from objections against using M2M, these were actually products/solutions that companies were using INSTEAD of using an M2M solution. 

Here are some thoughts on how you can effectively compete against these unique competitors:

Doing nothing = Analyze them vs. benchmarks in their industry
I have found that there are two great motivating factors that move companies towards change: 1) they are in financial trouble or 2) they think that their competitors have a significant "leg up on them".  Let's focus on the 2nd one for now.  It is important to note that this differs from scare tactics.  The idea here is to point out how companies in similar industries (or similar size companies) have deployed M2M and what benefits they are seeing.  When companies hear that their competitors are a lot more productive/responsive and/or have a lower cost base thanks to an M2M solution, it tends to move them faster than you think.  Now, no one wants to be totally on the "bleeding edge" for their market, so for industries that have been slow to adopt M2M technology it may make sense to look at industries that may share some of the same pains, but aren't necessarily the same.  One example may be comparing a company that services elevators with one that services washing machines......the commonality is that both industries have a declining number of young people entering into their field, and as such, they need to maximize the productivity of the workers that they have by optimizing the amount of time they spend doing actual work and reducing things like driving time and doing clerical work.

Pen and Clipboard = Improved cash flow, improved accuracy and security/validity of data
One objection that I like in this area is "I have never had someone hack into my paper records over the Internet".  While there is some truth to that, there is also truth that the same gentleman has had records stolen off the front seat of his employee's trucks while they are at a coffee shop.  M2M solutions allow for both the real time collection/transmission of data, as well as store and forward for non-real time solutions (ideal in cases where cellular transmissions are restricted, such as in areas of Oil/gas production or explosives).  As well, ask this same objector how long it takes from the time that his remote worker writes something down on a piece of paper until it is entered?  If the answer is "hours", or worse "days or weeks", what is the cost to their business?  How would having information being entered in seconds help improve their business....would it improve their cash flow, as they get faster billing?  Would it improve their customer service (and reduce service costs) by giving their customers information faster?....Finally, what is the cost when someone misinterprets a "4" for a "9", or when someone spills coffee on the paper record and what is the printing costs to print up just one form?  These are very common ROIs across all markets....

Dial-up modems = cost, connection time, improved security and the maintenance of expensive back-end infrastructure
For many companies, there may be some objections that seem insurmountable in this area.  One great objection is that their legacy software does not support IP connections, so they are stuck using dial-up modems.  While there are clever solutions that can allow for IP packeting of dial-up content both at the client and the server side, this is not always ideal (as double conversions can cause latency and connection stability issues).  As well, in the case of many utility meters, it may be that the server side software is compatible to work with IP-based connections, but they do not have the budget to replace the field hardware to use IP connectivity.  In this case, Dial-up to IP converters allow for a successful creation of a dial-tone for the device, then converting all of the traffic to IP at the site.  This setup does tend to work and is quite reliable.

However, more often than not, these technology limitations are not the reason......it is just how they have always done it!  First, at one point, cellular connections were not cost-competitive (even on lower amounts of monthly data) when compared to a landline  connection.  This is far from reality now, where many of these applications can use cellular-based IP connections for a small fraction of what a comparable landline would cost (even if the cost of leasing a cellular modem is factored in). 

Next, many applications are connection-time sensitive and as such, landline connections were not always ideal as the connection didn't always happen on the first try (or 12th try, in the case of some). IP-based modem solutions are always on, and as such, it makes for a much smoother connection experience to either transmit data from the remote device or to have the central system query a remote device. 

One strong argument (and rightly so) was that landlines provided strong levels of security, as one was able to lock down who could connect quite easily, while this restriction may not have been as easily done on older wireless connections.  However, today's cellular modems are as sophisticated as many office routers, and as such, they offer great ability to ensure that you know who is really connecting. 

Finally, dial-up modems require a corresponding "modem rack" at the office to handle these incoming calls.  For many companies, these devices are the only reason why they maintain these expensive pieces of equipment and using an IP connection would allow them to use the main IP connection for their office, reducing on-going costs.

Punch clocks = reduce clerical work, reduce "punching in for a friend" and extend this functionality out to the field
For every person that "punches in" using a punch clock, there is a corresponding person who has to manually interpret that data.  M2M offers many alternatives, including bar-code based solutions that not only provide instant input of someone's arrival/departure, but can also link directly into security systems to create accurate evacuation lists for first responders.  I think that all of us have heard stories of people punching their friend in on-time (when they are actually late), and punching them out on time (when they actually leave early), so this one doesn't need a lot of explaining.  Finally, many M2M solutions allow you to keep track of the activities of your remote staff to not only keep better track of the actual work being done in real time but also if they are where they are supposed to be and safe.

Paper records = Better sharing for remote workers, reduced clerical costs, better redundancy
One of the biggest areas for M2M gain here is in the health care space.  By implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR), we are able to reduce medical costs, improve the accuracy in our medical system and reduce medical errors.  However, these gains also apply to many other fields.  Engineers/Technicians in the field can benefit from having electronic-based access to key information, whether on a tablet or smartphone.  First responders, such as Firefighters, have shown great success in reducing the severity of fires as well as improved worker safety by being able to retrieve information about sites (such as schematic drawings) remotely.  Finally, it is quite common for paper records to be damaged by things such as floods, fires, theft and vandalism.  The move towards records automation helps to provide redundant backups (either as a replacement to paper-records or as a redundant backup).

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection.  You can visit our web page @ www.novotech.com.  As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).