Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SAP and M2M - An Interesting Development

I have noted with interest SAP's increasing focus on M2M (machine to machine) communication.  For those not familiar with this area, it involves machines wirelessly reporting their statuses to other machines.  I have heard SAP's Co-CEO Jim Snabe speak on wireless sensors and M2M several times. 

How is M2M used? In the electrical utility industry, many substations and other key pieces of equipment are set-up to automatically report any problems by sending wireless messages (M2M) to a server that is monitoring the system.  This provides all kinds of efficiencies by enabling remote managers to monitor large numbers of assets that are spread across large geographical areas.

Here are some related articles:

M2M and Enterprise Mobility - The Convergence
SAP Announces New M2M Initiative
M2M, SAP and Enterprise Mobility
SAP Enterprise Mobility and the Gathering M2M Storm

M2M is forecast to experience massive growth.  In fact, it was a central theme of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year.  I have seen forecasts projecting 50 billion connected (M2M) devices by 2025.  Just in the plant maintenance area alone the potential is huge.  Remote plants can be M2M enabled so that key pieces of equipment can report on their maintenance needs and any repairs needed.  These M2M messages can be configured to automatically initiate a work order or service ticket that can be scheduled based upon the priority of the message number.

I believe that the healthcare industry is going to be revolutionized by M2M solutions that can provide remote patient monitoring.  I wrote an article on this subject a few days ago.

M2M and enterprise mobility are cousins.  They both involve wireless data coming into a server from a remote location.  Recently I had the opportunity to interview SAP's Mike Wendell.  Mike is responsible for all of SAP's Industry Principals and has been speaking on M2M quite a bit this year.  He shared that his emphasis this year is cloud, mobility, big data and M2M. 

Mike explained how insurance companies were embracing M2M.  Most insurance companies today are offering discounts for clients that set up GPS tracking in their vehicles so their driving habits can be monitored and recorded.  GPS tracking is a machine to machine implementation.  Data from the vehicle is collected and reported to another machine for analysis.

Mike emphasized to me the wide range of industries that are implementing M2M solutions of some kind.  He talked about the transportation, finished goods, industrial machinery, medical equipment and automotive industries.  I would also add to that public safety and the military.

I asked Mike how M2M solutions most often integrate with SAP environments and he said today it would likely be through NetWeaver Gateway.

Mike introduced me to 2 new buzz words - Machine Cloud and Operational Cloud.  These as I understand it, refer to the ability to monitor large numbers of machines and people to gain a 360 degree view of your operational area through the use of mobile and M2M wireless data.

Wow!  This is an exciting area that I have been watching and writing about for many years, but it is starting to hit the mainstream.
SAP partner ILS Technology provides M2M integration with SAP

Kevin Benedict, Mobile Industry Analyst, Mobile Strategy Consultant and SAP Mentor Alumnus
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility analyst, consultant and blogger. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.