Nicola Mortimer from Three Ireland outlines six clear steps to getting an M2M project up and running with maximum results from minimum time, development and cost.
Businesses today operate in a smart, connected world. Demand for rich, real-time data is continuously growing and more businesses are embracing the opportunities and benefits of machine-to-machine (M2M).
However, it’s easy to get caught up in blue-sky thinking and miss the practicalities of rolling out an M2M project for your business, and it’s important to make sure you know exactly what to expect before getting started.
For starters, what is M2M?
M2M, machine-to-machine, is exactly what it sounds like. Two machines exchanging data with each other, without the need for human interaction. It has countless uses across a wide range of industries, including retail, security, transport and health.
M2M SIMs work in different ways and are used in everything from retail outlets and healthcare devices for assisted living, to delivery tracking in boats and lorries.
If you’re new to M2M, here’s a guide to maximise your end results, while minimising timelines and development costs.
1. Clearly define the project
Identify your objectives, the roll-out process and the intended outcomes. Understand what features are ‘nice to have’ and what you ‘need to have’. Prepare a clear plan and focus on the end goal.
Within the security and e-health space, I have seen projects designed and redesigned, sometimes never getting over the finish line because this end goal has not been clearly defined.
Save the time and money of redevelopment and only begin your project when you’re sure of what you want.
At Three, customers consult with our M2M experts to ensure a clear picture is painted before any work begins. Work starts when a clear brief or plan is prepared and this keeps everyone on track when temptation to keep adding to and changing the brief seeps in.
2. Evaluate skills and resources needed
Identify what skills and resources you are going to need and whether you can support the project internally.
If you already have the expertise in-house, you may simply need to purchase a batch of SIM cards to utilise and monitor yourself.
However, if you do not have these skills to hand, you can choose to partner with a specialist to help you implement your project. Network providers like Three work with Irish businesses every day to do just that.
3. Identify your integration costs
Often, integration can take a lot of resources and budget from the project. It’s important not to cut corners at this stage.
You’re going to want a clear user interface and the ability to view everything in one window. Another key point is to ensure that the data that you’ve generated is stored properly so that it can be analysed later.
While it’s important to get data from point A to point B (for example, from a courier to the end recipient, through a delivery tracker), saving this information for later will be valuable. You can analyse it for trends and identify improved processes, and over time you may even be able to sell your data.
Data usage will also be an ongoing cost for your M2M project, so knowing how much you need is important. For example, if you only need to receive data once a day, why multiply this cost by pulling the data every 10 minutes?
4. Understand your implementation cost model
While M2M and the internet of things (IoT) offer operating expense models, you may need to purchase new technology to support it, thus creating a capital expenditure element to your M2M project.
It’s important to identify this system requirement before you begin, due to its wider impact on your organisation.
5. Don’t forget security
Security is critical in all M2M projects due to the amount and type of data that is collected, transmitted and stored. You need to integrate robust solutions early in your project to address any security and privacy concerns.
6. Be creative and entrepreneurial
While it’s essential to set realistic goals for your M2M project, there’s no denying that incredible opportunities and benefits can be found in this space.
Applying your entrepreneurial thinking and flair to your project is important and aspirations in this regard can turn into clear and tangible results that have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Nicola Mortimer is head of business products, marketing and operations at Three Ireland. She has more than 15 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, having worked with Verizon, Magnet Networks and BT. She joined O2 Ireland (which was acquired by Three Ireland) in 2011, and took up her current role in July 2014.
Number six image via Shutterstock