As Sierra Wireless and Rogers were two of five Canadian M2M companies to be named to Connected World Magazine's top 100 most innovative M2M companies list last October, I have decided to showcase some great M2M examples and provide a scope of the industry in general.
The general consensus from all technology companies I've spoken to in this space is that the possibilities are limitless across a wide swath of industries.
On the consumer side, Rogers and Sierra are both working to drive smart home technology solutions that allow for remote access and easy home automation, and a different approach to home security if you will.
Further, Sierra has documented several automation improvements to the energy, security, sales and payment, healthcare, transportation, industrial and infastructure, networking and field service sectors. You can check out all of Sierra's case studies here.
In the industrial and infastructure category, Sierra featured CBS Outdoor and the management of 3500 digital billboards with Sierra's AirVantage. CBS Outdoor's Methods and Innovation Manager Marion Manyri says: “The idea was to report to the customer on the operation of the panels since it was not possible for the customer to check himself. The easiest solution consists of organizing inspection tours, but the cost and time required for such an approach is significant. Our alternative solution was to develop an automated remote monitoring system for the billboards".
In the sales and payment sector, Purolator Canada was featured as they connected 1250 kiosks with AirLink Gateways as they moved away from the non-IP phone line connection to an IP-based user application for enhanced capabilities and features. Purolator's Customer Automation Client Services representative Sam Hutcheon says: "Celluar has cut our required lead time from 8-10 weeks down to just days".
Some of Sierra's case studies go hand in hand with medical examples like Bayer and MedicAlert in the personal healthcare management field, Rogers' contribution to providing wireless monitoring of electricity usage for Hydro-Quebec, and M2M infastructure upgrades to Toronto's TTC.
Sierra also made inroads in mobile computing, using their AirCard service to provide high-speed data transfer for the simplification of production processes for the film production firm Sauce.
All this automation doesn't come without controversy and in no place is that more pronounced than in Ontario where the provincial election campaign seems to be very much about jobs- something that automation tends to eliminate.
However, with an increasing need for fiscal responsibility for companies and governments alike, automation can help balance the books.
While automation is decreasing the number of menial labour jobs, it is also increasing the need for more skilled workers- so if people are willing to go to school and/or train in the workplace for technical jobs, there will be money to be made there for the labour force. There is evidence of such a labour force impact in the US, which generally happens to be more technologically advanced where it was recently announced in Albany, New York that a 4.4 billion dollar tech deal will create 6900 jobs.
That means there's an increasing reliance on our post-secondary institutions and corporate training programs- something that Carleton University in a partnership with Huawei (a leading ICT provider), and TELUS (another M2M provider) were quick to address with a 1.4 million dollar partnership for enterprise cloud services at Carleton's new engineering building.
While the lab is being developed, Huawei Canada showcased a demo truck last week- which gave Carleton students a sneak peek of what is to come in this very exciting field.
Such an exciting field that Cisco's Chief Technology Officer Padma Warrior said last year that there could be 1 trillion connected devices by 2013- an estimate that's well above the general estimates of 20 to 50 billion by various telecom companies and continential innovation associations.
A number that's difficult to predict given the wide range of categories the connected devices field impacts and includes other M2M providers like iMetrix and WebTech Wireless (responsible for the real-time NextBus).