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The 3rd annual M2M Conclave India 2013 - A Report

Date: 2013 September 20
Venue: The Lalit, Mumbai
Actual duration: 10am to 6pm

Actual Agenda: The conference was split into 3 sessions of 5 speakers each. These shorter sessions were easier to bear. As always, 5 star hotels can never get their air conditioning right - it was too cold for sit for long durations inside the hall. This was ironic as the conference touched on using M2M for improved building automation many times.
Originally each session had a theme but at runtime, most speakers deviated from the topic at hand and delved deeper into various issues involved in M2M implementations. Their insightful experiences were valuable.

A few stalls had been put up by M2M device manufacturers and a few system integrators.
Actual Audience Composition: A large number of delegates were from cellular service providers like Vodafone, Idea, MTNL. Rest were from organizations involved in manufacture of M2M hardware and/or M2M service providers.

Combined Summary of the conference: A successful M2M implementation requires lots of components. Other than the hardware, most of these components are in form of services like: Cellular data, managed IT and managed non-IT equipment, Cloud computing backbone, User interface, Analytics tools. Current players in this field (specially India) provide one or some of these services. They must form partnerships with each other to come out with a bundled M2M product cum service offering for end customers with a single point of contact for issue resolution.

Here is a summary of the talks given by various speakers:

Session 1
Successful Business Models & Ecosystem Integration for making M2M a Business Success in India

(Keynote) Mr Emil Berthelsen, Machina Research

  • Machina Research provides market intelligence in the field of M2M. According to them: The M2M Revenue opportunity in India will grow from USD6.3 billion in 2013 to USD29.7 billion in 2022 (These revenues are made up of device, installation, data connectivity (where integral and required) and service revenue)
  • In India, mandated initiatives like R-APDRP, JnNURM, Aadhaar & NREGA are driving the adoption of M2M in corresponding sectors namely Energy Utilities, Smart Cities/Public Transportation, Retail/Healthcare & Agrculture
  • But in this early stage, M2M market is still fragmented whichever way you look: in terms of Technology (WiFi, 3G/4G, ZigBee etc.), in terms of Providers (Hardware, Connectivity, Integration, Servicing, etc.) and in terms of Sectors (Utilities, Retail, Construction etc.).
  • If you just look at "services" part of M2M, in India, this will generate around USD9.1 billion by end of 2022 and 90% of this revenue will come from the services bundled with a particular M2M connection.
  • So for those looking to provide the "services" part of M2M, 2 immediate opportunity areas have been identified: Vertical Application Development (i.e. solution tuned for a particular sector like cell tower management) and Horizontal Application Platform development and M2M Application Stores (i.e.Google Play or iTunes App Store)
  • As Big Data is accumulated via these M2M devices, focus will shift to monetizing thru data analytics
  • Three business models will emerge as new opportunity areas from Big Data/M2M: Deliver new services to improve customer experiences, use data assets for insights and hence gain competitive advantage for the group, act as broker of data or selling the insights gained to others.

Mr RM Agarwal, Department of Telecom, Government of India

  • DoT is in process of forming policies and regulations for the M2M sector.
  • Currently, they are driving on adoption of IPv6 by all major telecom and internet service providers as that when M2M devices come up, they don't fall short of IP addresses.
  • Talked about the proposed Smart Cities Project : 7 cities
  • 14 Smart Grid projects have been proposed by Ministry of Power
  • National Mission for Electric Mobility (NMEM) - Sale of 6-7 million electric vehicles by 2020
  • Policies are being formed around: security, lawful interception, KYC (current KYC forbids resale of SIM card, so when a SIM card is present inside an electric vehicle which is being resold, what laws must be followed?)
  • Policies will be formed on basis of inputs (via means of survey) from Academia, Industry and M2M vendors. They have prepared a questionnaire which they have circulated amongst professionals working in the M2M field to take their inputs. The questionnaire is here. My response is here.

Mr Vishnu Rajanikanth, Volvo Group Telematics

  • Truck telematics can help all stake holders to track the asset - for example banks who have lent money for buying the truck can keep a check on the productivity of the asset and thereby assess the quality of their investment. Insurance companies/Warranty providers can ensure the authenticity of claims. 
  • Partnerships with content providers will help enable new kinds of use. For example combining traffic data with truck's GPS coordinates will help estimate time of arrival.
  • We need to figure our where we are in the M2M Hype Cycle and set our expectations and strategies accordingly.

Mr Nilesh Sangoi, Meru Cabs

  • Meru Cabs was started in 2007, and today serves 1 million customers per month through 20,000 trips per day across 4 cities in India. 5500+ cabs.
  • Each cab is fitted with mobile data terminals with GPRS connectivity, GPS receivers & Credit/Debit card reader.
  • Automated overspeeding alarm using GPS
  • Website and mobile app enable consumer self service - Oracle ERP & Siebel CRM based system capable of handling more than 25,000 cabs per day - developed in house
  • Centralized system for all cities
  • Learnings: In house algorithm developed: after a booking, GPS coordinates of the customers pickup location is identified via GIS, bid is sent out to 5 cabs closest to customers. System identifies the right cab based on algorithm. SMS is sent to customer with cab details, whole process is completed in 1 minute.
  • Learnings: GPRS coverage in India is very unreliable specially at night when the Telecom providers are performing various testing and may shut down the network for multiple durations. Service providers are not geared for 24x7 support.
  • Learnings: Strudy hardware is required. Current hardware is not immune to high temperatures caused by sunlight. 
  • Opportunities: Analytics and improvement of dispatch algorithms, NFC payements, Traffic data integration and route optimization, cheaper hardware, smart phone apps, in cab entertainment

Mr Shankar Halder, Pinnacle Consulting

  • Current state of M2M is like the story of the Blind men and the Elephant - Each player in the field has their own interpretation of what M2M should be like.
  • Market fragmentation must be overcome through partnerships - end customer must be presented with a unified frontend - a single point of contact for service requests with regards to the bundled M2M offering
  • Hence biggest challenge is to form alliances

Session 2
How M2M Ecosystem will Create New Revenue Streams in India

Mr Parag Harolikar, Tech Mahindra

  • Whose focussing on field services? You make a device and the web infrastructure to support it, but at the end you need personnel to go and install the device in the field which might possibly a hazardous location out in a village. You will need personnel to respond to service calls
  • M2M is sort of a new way of doing Business Process Reengineering - or atleast BPR is one of the application areas of M2M.
  • Presented the case study of Nano Ganesh - Remote control of agriculture water pumpset: Ossian trained local entrepreneurs/handymen from the village (local electricians or those having mobile shops) on how to install the Nano Ganesh. Such people (besides earning revenue from their already existing business) earn commission and fees for installing the device for local farmers. "For farmers these handymen are like Gods! because they are able to listen to them and solve their local problems!"

Mr Sachin Deshpande, Radius

  • According to the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), IoT is simply the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people. (Reference: The Internet of Things How the Next Evolution of the Internet Is Changing Everything)
  • Talked about his company's M2M platform called Xenius and showed us a demo by logging into an existing installation at a township in Delhi. (The names Xenia™, the 'mother intelligence' of the system, and Xenius™, the 'child intelligence', are both derived from the Latin word 'genius', meaning: 'the guardian spirit or deity who watches over a system from birth'.)

Mr Derick Jose, Flutura

  • The best talk of the conclave: He actually shared the wisdom gained from years of experience in the field.
  • Year 2008 saw the Inflection point (Number of connected sensors became greater than number of connected humans)
  • It is important to know what problem you are solving using M2M - So ask the customer. For example power leakage problem can be divided into two categories: theft and technical. A Smart meter must be able to distinguish between the two. If your smart meter and its associated big data analytics can help you optimize electrician deployment for travel to multiple simultaneous leakage events then that's a plus point
  • Modern day data analytics tools allow you to zoom in and zoom out of data.. from Bird's eye view to event view to worm's eye view. This was not possible using Traditional RDBMS and requires cloud backend. Different zoom levels can bring out different insights.
  • Devices can be classified depending on levels of intelligence. Or you can say that a non instrumented facility evolves by passing through these levels.
    • Level 0: Instrumented
      Does not have any sensors today.
      E.g. Lamps, Motors
    • Level 1: Instrumented/Not Transmitted
      Sensors trapped + Events Recorded + Locally Flushed
      E.g. Pumps, Motors - Tripper Unit
    • Level 2: Edge Intelligence
      Device has local intelligence
      E.g. if boiler temperature > threshold, take action
    • Level 3: Visualisation
      Help visually explore the device
      E.g. Geospatial map + Engineering map of devices
    • Level 4: Central + Reactive Intelligence
      Single stream alerts/alarm
      E.g. if boiler temperature > threshold, take action AND.., Net sweeper logs
    • Level 5: Real Time + Triangulated Intelligence
      Device has central intelligence
      E.g. If a smoke detector detects smoke, check the 2-3 surrounding smoke detector to confirm - like in a smart building
    • Level 6: Predictive Intelligence
      With which probability will the device experience failure
  • More details regarding this here on their blog article: 5 Levels of Intelligence in Industrial IOT
  • Triangulation: Focus on the sensed part of the data (correlation and detecting of events) and not the storage of raw sensor data itself. Sort the event instead.
  • Big data solution architecture must reduce massive risks and unlock process efficiency
  • Machine Learning: The technicians working in the field develop intuition and muscle memory. This intuition must be captured and passed on as inputs to other field technicians to enhace their practical skills and experience. The system must assist in capturing these nuggests of knowledge and facilitate sharing amongst the teams. This can be done inform of annotations to the data/captured events etc.
  • Gamification and Habit Design must be incorporated into the M2M solution. Big data can be used to improve the working habits of the technicians and other personnel working at various levels with the aim of improving  their wellbeing, quality of working conditions and  sustainability.
  • Different personnel have different agendas, so the data must be presented differently to different people. People like field technicians, process optimizers, head office designers and command center guy have different expectations from the system when it is presenting data to them

Sudhakar Marthi, WebNMS

  • Promoted his M2M solution: WebNMS. WebNMS is a division of Zoho Corporation
  • Talked about using M2M for warranty management and product lifecycle management
  • Their WebNMS hardware also has a web camera which shows you the live photo of the asset being monitored

Session 3
M2M Monetization Strategies in India - Smart Devices, Smart Consumers & Smart Enterprises

Mr Dhananjaya L, Vodafone India

  • He is the new product development head at Vodafone
  • He says that cutomers complain about SIM card getting spoilt regularly. Perhaps we need a new kinds of industrial/automotive grade SIM card capable of withstanding high temperatures.
  • Its difficult for end customer (when faced with a problem) to differentiate between the device being defective or the SIM card being defective.

Mr Prashant Pareira, Nelco - A Tata company

  • Nelco is provider of "Managed M2M service", they are the one stop shop for managing all issues relating to your automation equipment. They guarantee the uptime for your critical equipment.
  • When the end customer asks questions like: "who do I contact when things go wrong with my M2M installation?" or "how will my energy bill change when I use this M2M solution?", they need some one to answer such questions. A managed M2M provider is the one who should answer such question.
  • M2M: means automating operational and business processes based on events
  • Adopter of M2M have realized invisible benefits:
    • 20% reduction in total service cost
    • 35% reduction in equipment down time
    • 20-35% improvement in service force productivity
    • 5-10% return on sales
  • M2M managed services is part of "Non IT managed services" which includes things like onsite maintenance of fire alarm system, PA system, Security system, Diesel Generator,  etc.
  • He compared the projected growth of M2M managed services (Non IT managed services) to the growth of "managed IT services" a decade or two ago:
    • Non IT managed service requires onsite to remote ratio of 60:40 as compared to the onsite to remote ratio of 20:80 for managed IT services.
    • Growth and maturation of non IT managed services might take 15 years as compared to 5 years taken by IT managed services
  • Presented a case study of light house automation at Andaman and Nicobar islands - no people, no electricity, used solar, used VSATs

Mr Kartik Gopal, Mahindra Reva

  • Mahindra e2o is one of the earliest global electric cars. Its a personal car with anytime,anywhere connectivity.
  • Connected card: You are connected to the network at office and at home, even at mall/airports/restaurants .. so why not stay connected while travelling.
  • Their context for connectivity for the connected car:
    • Readily available digitized data inside the car.
    • Lower volumes compared to internal combustion engine car means strong business need for lowering diagnostics costs
    • Global market focus: vehicle performance under diverse environmental conditions.
    • Enable unique methods to address 'range anxiety'
  • Telematics application focus in the e2o:
    • Remote Diagnostics:
      • ~80% of time required for fault rectification is diagnostics
      • Developing prognostic algorithms
      • Enabling 2 customer promises: we will tell you there is a problem in the carbefore you get to know it & we will fix your car wherever it is.
    • Improving Vehicle Design:
      • Real-life data from vehicles on-road, under diverse conditions.
      • Warrany condition reporting.
    • Customer & Brand connect:
      • Addressing 'range anxiety'
      • Getting to 'wow'
  • Battery is 30% cost of your car
  • Mahindra e2o has a mobile app to control and monitor certain aspects of your car: control your AC, check battery level, get SMS alerts if there is an error like charging failure etc..
  • Technical challenges for the telematics unit of an always connected car:
    • High sustained data rates: 400 bytes per second
    • Enabling 24x7 connectivity without consuming too much data
    • Network variability during driving
    • Multiplicity of technical skills required for end-to-end solution enablement.
  • Currently, Mahendra uses a Vodafone SIM inside the car to transfer data over to their servers. The Vodafone SIM card is registered in the name of Mahendra and not the end customers so that the KYC norms are not broken when the car is re sold.

Mr Vineet Malhotra, Kale Logistics

  • Logistics field is made up of SMEs
  • 57% of M2M spends happens in logistics industry?
  • Smart phone can act as an M2M device
  • Data Quality and Validity varies depending on the medium used to collect the data:
    • Phone (Voice) 38%
    • Paper 44%
    • Email/Excel 53%
    • ERP 71%
    • Smart Phone (using Apps) 96%
    • M2M device 100%
  • Presented a case study where a business process was automated using smart phone app:
  • Instrumentation equipment like a multimeter are now available which communicate with cellphones to take automated readings (like for example measuring battery health at a cell tower)
  • Using smart phones increases efficiency of the service force without taking away jobs
  • Presented another case study for inexpensive use of technology for container management in a yard.

Mr Nitin Joshi, Vighnaharta

  • In terms of technology: India is tricky with contrast to western world because of low penetration of devices and lack of infrastructure
  • Talked about his intrusion detection product
  • Have been in device automation field since 1989
  • M2M began with serial device servers, now we are moving to cloud and slowly all the functionality will be integrated in the device itself.
  • Presented a case study of a cell tower and its diesel genset. They used monitoring to curb diesel theft and track working hrs of the genset and cost per kWh.
  • They have included 2-way audio public address system in their ATM security/monitoring systems - when some tried to steal from the ATM, a loud audio warning can be given to the intruders to deter them from the act.