One aspect of working for a global company that I don’t care for are 5am conference calls with Europe. But what’s even more frustrating is waking up to my alarm clock at 4:30 am only to discover that the 5 am call was cancelled overnight. Well, what if my calendar could talk to my alarm clock across the Internet? The cancelled meeting would trigger my alarm clock being set back an hour, allowing me to sleep a little longer. Now imagine what my morning would be like if all of the devices in my life were synched together. The meeting cancellation resets not only my alarm clock but the coffee machine as well. Additionally, my mobile device receives a notification from my car that I’m low on gasoline. I’m informed that the trains are running 15 minutes late, and there’s 10 minutes of crowded traffic on my route to the train station. All that information is fed back to my alarm clock (and coffee machine for that matter) via the Internet.
At the end of the day, on my walk to the train station, my phone receives a notification from my refrigerator that I’m low on milk and a grocery store that I’m passing has a promotion for milk (and by the way, my favorite yogurt). I’m directed via location awareness right to the aisle where the milk and yogurt are stocked, and through precision retailing, a personalized coupon for 50% discount on the yogurt is sent to my mobile device.
Here’s another scenario. When my family goes on a ski trip to Tahoe, my wife and I disagree about whether to turn our home heating on or off. She wants the house warm for our kids when we return; I want to save energy. Well, what if we turned off the thermostat, but on our return drive an hour away from home, I use my phone to direct an Internet-enabled thermostat to turn the heat up in my home!
These might all seem like scenes from “Back to the Future”, but much of this is increasingly possible via what is known as the Internet of Things (IoTs) and the intelligent sharing of information between Machine-to-Machine (M2M). Basically, four key elements are required for IoTs – a) Tagging Things b) Sensing Things c) Shrinking Things and d) Thinking Things. With advances in RFID, miniaturization and analytics, M2M makes the Internet of Things an increasingly tangible possibility. Think of such M2M communication as the “social collaboration” of machine-to-machine or machine-to-man.
Such technology is beginning to mature, whether it’s smart thermostats from startups like Nest Labs or Honeywell, or what’s being called “precision retailing”, where innovations in Big Data Analytics, combined with Mobility and GPS, allow tailored promotions to be offered to consumers on their mobile devices. One of our automotive customers once told me that there’s more software in the modern car than in the first space shuttle! I learned from our manufacturing customers that if you thought today’s tractors are dumb, quite the contrary, they stream all kinds of information like an Airbus 380 might, so that farmers can optimize usage, schedule maintenance and focus their time on agricultural production. Consumer companies are exploring smart vending machines that have tiny computers on a wireless network which leverage information like usage data and weather forecasts to determine replenishment schedules. If you know it’s going to be a hot day, being able to get your trucks to the vending machine fast enough might be the difference in a breakout profitable quarter.
We look at all of these machines, whether wired or unwired, and see them as extensions of mobile devices; they all need to be secured, managed, and enabled to run applications in much the same way as a mobile phone. Managing this smart machine to machine (M2M) evolution requires a comprehensive architecture and technology solutions that we’re working on with our partners. But at the core of M2M are three key elements: Mobility, Big Data and the Cloud. These are precisely the focus areas that we’ve designated as innovation vectors at SAP. And when these three elements come together in use cases like the “Internet of Things” or “Machine-2-Machine”, it’s like getting a “Triple Word Score” in the game of Scrabble!
So... how does SAP's Mobile Management solution fit into this vision? Stay tuned for my next blog to find out the answer!