It's coming. Not the singularity (though that might well arrive), but the melding of machines. I'm talking about Machine-2-Machine (M2M) technology. It's sprouting up everywhere. Within homes, restaurants, hotels, banks, retail -- you name it. No matter where you go, your mobile device can interact with other mobile (and non-mobile) devices. This means your company should probably start looking into how you can expand your business to include M2M. Here are 10 reasons why.
1: Better, easier interaction
Imagine being able to quickly and easily interact with your clients and customers. While clients sit in a waiting room, you could push information regarding your company, special deals, and even their orders to their mobile devices. They could also use their devices to check in, so you know at a glance who's waiting. You'll finally get rid of those paper sign-in sheets.
2: Modernize or die
Many businesses rely on the court of public opinion. Because the world at large continues to grow smaller, it's imperative that your company present itself as being forward thinking. This means you must modernize your technology or risk watching your business wither. For example, many small restaurants are popping up to take advantage of tablet technology. Consumers can place their orders with a mobile app before they reach the establishment. Without having to wait in line, they can enter the building and as soon as the devices communicate, the order is placed. That's M2M in action.
3: More efficient transactions
Imagine not having to manually enter data -- ever. If all data is transferred via M2M, you rely on your customers/clients to pre-enter the data for you. Clients may also keep other information (such as credit cards) on their devices. With a simple connection, that information is exchanged and approved. M2M will make transactions of nearly every kind far more efficient than previously possible.
4: Improved productivity
With M2M, your employees can work faster and more efficiently. With less data to enter manually, there will be fewer fingers on keyboards -- which means fewer errors. M2M also means less time with tasks like inventory. Of course, the productivity improvements don't end with employees. The machines that do your bidding also become more and more efficient.
5: Better automation
Automation is the key to efficiency in many industries. Imagine where the auto industry would be without automation. Small businesses can use M2M to add a level of automation, such as embedded systems that track inventory. When specific inventories gets low, the embedded device automatically reorders. Imagine never having to manually order inventory again!
6: Stronger, more responsive security
With M2M, you can add a layer of security you never had before. You can enhance theft prevention as well as give your employees added protection by adding an application or system to their mobile devices that automatically alerts authorities (and you) in the event of trouble. You can also take advantage of M2M to track inventory shrinkage.
7: Better data collection
M2M improves the task of data collection like no other system. With NFC, Bluetooth, and other communication protocols, you'll be able to easily collect client/customer information on site, on the go, or remotely. With inventory tracking, you can automate the collection and analysis of sales. You'll know precisely which products sell best and when they sell.
8: Easier fleet management
If you have vehicles, and employees who drive those vehicles, you need to know where they are at all times. Why? Because you might need to redeploy them for emergencies. With the ability to easily track your vehicle movement, you can readily redeploy an employee to another site. Not only that, but you can track the driving habits of your staff (and better calculate money spent on gas and other vehicle maintenance).
9: More efficient resource management
I can imagine a time when people will be able to schedule rooms by simply tapping their mobile to an NFC tag on the room's doorway. This could also work for all sorts of resources. The ability to quickly manage resources across the board could make for an amazing improvement over your current process. M2M will enable you to keep tabs on hardware, rooms, vehicles... you name it.
10: Endless possibilities
The idea behind M2M is enabling machines to make your life (and your business) more productive. This idea brings about endless possibilities that will not be dictated just by the manufacturers of the products. M2M will allow you to bend and twist systems and products into doing exactly what you need. For small businesses, the limits of the sky have been replaced by the stratosphere.
The M2M advantage
M2M offers businesses (as well as consumers) a means to a very productive and prosperous end. If you're not currently considering taking advantage of this new wave of technology, hop onto the bandwagon before it's going too fast to join.
For a comprehensive look at the issues and technologies surrounding the Internet of Things and the emerging Machine-to-Machine (M2M) ecosystem, check out ZDNet’s latest feature page, Tapping M2M: The Internet of Things.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.