KORE Telematics is the world's largest wireless network provider specializing on the rapidly expanding global machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Stein Soelberg, KORE’s Director of Marketing, recently spoke with Manufacturing Business Technology about the company, the emerging field of M2M communications, and the future of M2M technology.
Stein Soelberg, KORE
MBT: Can you give me a little bit of background on your company and what it does?
Soelberg: Our founders saw a real opportunity in this growing marketplace for connected devices. It’s really morphed into what people are calling “the internet of things.” Essentially that is anything that’s got a battery, could have an IP address, is connected, and can share data. That’s got a lot of different utilities from enabling smart-grid to enabling point-of-purchase, environmental monitoring, and now obviously supply chain as it relates to asset tracking around the globe. What we do is offer a platform that enables users to monitor, activate, deactivate, monitor rate plans, get a single bill, and troubleshoot issues, things like that. It’s a single platform that allows our customers to connect into a number of tier-one carriers. We do only data, and we’re only selling business to business and machine to machine. That’s all we do.
Many manufacturers have assets that are very high in value. Fore example, they have large earth-moving equipment like Caterpillar or John Deere. These are multi-thousand dollar pieces of equipment with a solution that offers a device and an application and our network connectivity to connect all that to the internet. They can find out exactly where that device is located and they can actually do things like have the device able to look into the issues of those pieces of equipment. That really helps protect assets and reduce total cost of ownership.
By virtue of having both cellular and satellite connectivity, you could have a device track a shipment end to end.
MBT: Would you say companies are sort of wising up to some of the opportunities that come along with M2M network services? Is this a trend that’s on the rise?
Soelberg: I would say it is a trend that’s on the rise. I would say it is something that companies are investigating them, they are doing pilot deployments, or they are fully deploying them.
MBT: You guys have been around since 2002. How has your business changed, and how has the technology changed over the course of the past several years?
Soelberg: It is definitely changing. The genesis of machine-to-machine is really in the vehicle telematics marketplace. It started off with commercial fleets. Fleet operators wanted to know where their trucks were and make sure they were compliant with the amount of time they can be operated. That was really the driving vertical, and we are seeing that’s still a growing area. But there are more and more different verticals coming in and taking share (if you will) in that growth. Manufacturing and supply chain is certainly one of those growth areas.
In terms of the technology itself, it has changed significantly. We have the analog-to-digital changeover. Then the majority of these devices have been on the 2G network technologies. That’s also changing. We’re seeing more 3G deployments because the 3G networks are very ubiquitous. The 2G networks are slowly being replaced and re-groomed for the emergence of 4G.
MBT: Where do you think the technology is headed in the future?
Soelberg: From a manufacturing perspective, I think there needs to be more integration into the central office. I see that as a driver. I think we are going to see the platforms that are managing all of these connected devices will be integrated into these ERP platforms and whatnot. I think that’s going to be a key one. As a consequence of that, I think you’ll see a lot more centralized purchasing versus today where maybe certain departments are making these buy decisions. It’s going to roll ultimately to the authority of the CIO or the head of IT. Then they are going to allocate those costs back to those departments according to how much they are consuming. You can’t have different silos within the company buying different solutions from different companies and achieve scalability or true cost control. I think more and more you’ll see the enterprise itself doing the application development, where it used to be very difficult and you’d have to hire unique, highly-differentiated developers to do this. Then the burden to maintain that code base for that application becomes onerous.
I think now it is becoming simple to do, and these organizations are going to have means that just can’t be fulfilled through a commercial solution provider. They are going to want to do it themselves. You are going to see more home-grown applications and a proliferation of them.
Check out www.koretelematics.com to learn more.