Heavy industry might be the next big user of mobile messaging, says Sethu Meenakshisundaram, president of SAP Mobile Services. He recently talked to MEF Minute features editor, Tim Green, about the promise of smart connected machines for MEF’s free Future of Messaging Guide.
Sethu Meenakshisundaram has a vision for mobile messaging. And it’s not necessarily human. He is qualified to opine on the subject. He was a director at messaging pioneer Sybase for 15 years and today he is president of SAP Mobile Services (a division of SAP), which bought Sybase in 2010. He’s seen messaging evolve from a person to person medium to a channel through which enterprises can communicate with customers.
The next stage, he insists, is all about machines.
Supply chain reaction
He says: “There will always be human interaction, whether it’s through SMS or chat apps. But the big opportunity as I see it lies with bringing connectivity into fields like supply chain, diagnostics and field management. We call it ‘intelligent interconnect through messaging’.”
Verticals on the up
This sounds like the Internet of Things. And in a way it is. It’s all about connecting remote and previously dumb devices to other devices and to their human custodians. But Meenakshisundaram is not concerned with consumer use cases like smart toasters. His focus is on bringing connectivity to verticals such as oil and gas, automotive, industrial tools and so on.
He says: “SAP started in manufacturing. It’s still number one in transport, logistics, supply chain. This is a great opportunity to add value and bring new efficiencies to some of our biggest and oldest customers. They can use our solutions to find out how their machines are functioning at any time, and do it all from one central location.”
Out to sea
Importantly, thanks to the core strengths of SAP Mobile Services, this connectivity goes through the SMS channel. Meenakshisundaram says this is safe and promises unrivalled reach.
“We have customers who have equipment that’s 600 miles out to sea. There’s no wifi. No cable. So we provide them with SMS connectivity. But the important part is that they don’t know it as SMS. We put it inside a beautiful wrapper that’s much more relevant to want they’re doing,” he says.
Cellular and universal
Another critical component of the SAP Mobile Services proposition is its ability to offer universal cellular connections, no matter where the device ends up. “It’s funny. No one really thinks about the reality of connectivity,” he says.
“They want to put a diagnostic solution inside expensive and important devices. But they don’t think about how it will connect to different operators around the world. We solve that with global SIMs. It means that, for the manufacturer, they can use the same part number wherever a machine goes.”
Using SMS also brings with it a greater level of security. In these early days of the IoT most devices are connected over IP. That has led to numerous, regrettable hacking scares. The SAP Mobile Services solution runs over a private and secure SS7 channel. What’s more, in most cases, the devices are not actively sending data back to base. Instead, the data is pulled by the monitoring organisation.
Meenakshisundaram explains: “It’s very important that these solutions are extensible and programmable. We build them so that the customer has control over when the data is sent, and who pulls it. The devices are never permanently connected. They’re essentially in sleep mode, which also extends battery life over several years.”
The Future of Messaging Guide explores the uses cases, platforms & technologies that are changing the landscape of messaging globally. From A2P to OTT, chat bots to smart machines, we explore how the world’s most powerful medium is shaping up for tomorrow.
The guide features over 25 cross-sector case studies and exclusive interviews that examine the power of messaging in all its forms from the humble SMS and chat apps to emerging platforms and explores what’s next for messaging.