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SAP and the Internet of Things (M2M)

I had an interesting discussion with SAP's new VP of the Internet of Things, Suhas Uliyar recently.    He was still in the process of deciding whether VP of the Internet of Things was the appropriate title, or if it should be VP of the Connected World or something more representative of how the technology was evolving.  He did not like the traditional M2M (machine to machine) reference as that reflected too much of the old model.  He wanted to reflect the future direction of this technology.

Suhas is an industry veteran and mobility expert.  We have spoken numerous times over the past decade as he was leading efforts at a number of MDM (mobile device management) and enterprise mobility companies.  He is very knowledgeable about the needs of large enterprises.

Now back to the topic of M2M.  The traditional use of M2M technology was a sensor would capture data in the field and feed it to an embedded wireless chip that would send it to a server.  As long as the data was communicating the right results, nothing happened.  If the data results meant there was a problem, then hopefully an alert would be created and a human would get involved.  However, over the years sensors have evolved to be much smarter, and so have the embedded wireless chips.  Today, not only can a wireless embedded chip send data results from a sensor, but it can also receive data from a server and operate machines.  This means rather than simple machine to machine communications, you have a bi-directional data feed that enables machines to operate other machines.  That is cool!  That can also be scary if you are imaginative and like scifi books and movies.

In the past M2M was used to monitor very basic sensor data - door open/door closed, temperature good/bad, pressure good/bad, etc.  However today, SAP is looking at this world of connected devices and pondering the role it will play in big data (SAP Hana), business analytics, CRM, EAM (enterprise asset management).

Analysts have predicted there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2025.  The world is quickly moving to this number.  Already there are examples from early adopters such as Vivint, the winner of Gartner's 1to1 Media CRM Excellence Award on how to wirelessly connect devices to machines and revolutionize an industry.  Vivint has a video available here that demonstrates how they use some of this technology, but you will have to sit through a ClickSoftware commercial to view it.  This is definitely an interesting emerging field.  Companies should start watching and exploring how this technology will impact their industries and markets.

Suhas said the Internet of Things today, is less about sensors and embedded wireless chips, and more about process orchestration.  How will all of these new sources of data introduce efficiencies into companies?  How will the data be analyzed and reported in ways that can change the competitive landscapes?  These are the areas of interest before Suhas today.  Welcome on board the SAP ship!

I publish a newsletter every week on Tuesdays called M2M News Weekly.  According to Suhas that name may be dated, but the news is news :-)
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Kevin Benedict, Head Analyst for SMAC, Cognizant
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Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and SMAC analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

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More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict is the Senior Analyst for Digital Transformation at Cognizant, a writer, speaker and SAP Mentor Alumnus. Follow him on Twitter @krbenedict. He is a popular speaker around the world on the topic of digital transformation and enterprise mobility. He maintains a busy schedule researching, writing and speaking at events in North America, Asia and Europe. He has over 25 years of experience working in the enterprise IT solutions industry.