From smart phone enabled bike locks and kettles to talking vending machines, innovative machine to machine (M2M) communication is fundamentally transforming day to day life – for both businesses and consumers.
Yet to date, few traditional telecoms resellers have really got stuck into this market, with most preferring to retain a mobile voice centric business.
Whether you call it M2M, the Internet of Things, Telematics, or Pervasive Internet, the truth is that the ease, speed and security of the latest generation of mobile data technology is opening up huge opportunities for innovative businesses. While some of the headline consumer applications such as smart metering and intelligent white goods have been driven by the widespread adoption of personal technology (including smartphones, Wi-Fi and tablets), cloud services are also having a direct business impact on M2M, enabling lower cost remote deployment and management – from water treatment plants to wind turbines.
Yet despite the fact that M2M now underpins a raft of business applications, from EPoS and ticket machines to CCTV, digital signage and parcel tracking, the vast majority of such implementations have been carried out by the main services providers. Very few resellers have managed to gain any significant traction in this market, despite the huge business opportunity on offer.
Understanding the Market
Today, the majority of resellers remain mobile voice rather than mobile data centric, concentrating on selling handsets and airtime, calls and minutes. Even those that have begun to dabble with mobile data, including broadband and internet services, are typically opting for a turnkey solution and simply reselling a carrier’s bundle with no added value or differentiation. Yet take a step back and consider the opportunities that exist even within the current client base and it is clear that most resellers could rapidly identify model data solutions, from remote monitoring and management to backup.
M2M offers huge opportunities not only to add revenue but also to create clear market differentiation. But it is not a straightforward transition from mobile voice to mobile data – and the lack of reseller friendly education and support has without doubt constrained M2M market development.
The Right Relationship
Of course, if this all sounds too much, resellers can continue to ignore M2M or simply opt for the basic reselling of a carrier’s turnkey solution. But, for those that want to actively embrace this rapidly developing market and gain some clear differentiation, there are a few key steps to take. Firstly, understand the opportunities; this probably requires a partner with a track record across the board in M2M deployments, from iPad SIMs to wind turbines, and one that can highlight both potential pitfalls and wider opportunities within a deployment.
Second, ensure the billing side is manageable – for example, with a portal that enables rapid search to identify the customer record in question. With swift access to detailed information, a reseller can both ensure accurate billing and enable the customer to understand the way in which mobile data is being used by the organisation – a key consideration for new applications and deployments.
Finally, invest in the right skills and look for a partner able to step in to help deliver the more complex deployments while the reseller’s expertise, experience and confidence builds up.
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