Mobile World Congress News: Asset monitoring to resurface as a mature industry

Mobile World Congress News: Asset monitoring to resurface as a mature industry

Jasper has a large number of operator partnerships, which means, Macario, that Jasper Wireless is what we call an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator).

The hype of three years ago about M2M connecting, or monitoring, all assets, leading to a ‘web of machines', has subsided. At the time, connectivity and the price of chipsets were still not conducive to making a solid business case.

Right now the cost of modules is dropping from $100 down to around $50. In some case, the chip manufacturers are going as far as supplying them "for free", i.e. instead of an upfront investment, a rental fee of $1 per month is added to the service contract.

Operators are also a lot more mature on the subject, and have come to realise the value of churn free data-only devices on their network.

This has helped companies like credit card terminal manufacturer, Verifone, to link up all its cash machine around the word and use the network to monitor their activity or react to alerts. The second step for such a company is to start using its monitoring facility to charge for the networking, communication and maintenance of the cash points instead of a flat fee for the machine.

The product that Jasper is pitching is the operator control. Deploying tens of thousands of assets that are controlled across a network is pretty complex, and requires specific development tools to scale the process up as well as maintain it.

Although it was dealt with three years ago, activation is still a big issue. Currently, the assets equipped are not only linked to the network for testing at no charge, but they are also ready and set to be activated only when out in the field, until which time there are no network charges.

The market is notoriously very fragmented, and those most likely to profit from remotely monitoring their assets or products ranges from the obvious – like the transport industry, to the less obvious – from chemical mining companies through a multitude of small niche markets like copier manufacturers and hazardous gas detection companies.

So how does Jasper find its customers?

"Well, interestingly the one player in the (long) value chain of the monitoring industry that gets the customers for the others is the one most far removed from the end users: the chip manufacturers," says Macario.

Companies like Telit, Wavecom and Siemens have had sections of their enterprises specialising in M2M for longer than anybody else, and have spent their marketing budgets on educating the users.

Macario is definite on this: The module manufacturers are the ones who took the time to understand the customers' needs, choose the system integrators and, ultimately, introduce Jasper to its customers.

Author: Thomas Hallauer, editor-in-chief, Telematics Update

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