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From Prototype to Service: Machine-to-Machine (M2M) | Part 2
There is no question that machine-to-machine (M2M) is attracting attention on a global scale

There is no question that machine-to-machine (M2M) is attracting attention on a global scale. While many might say M2M is a nascent industry sector, the forecast of $10 billion worldwide in 2013 provides proof of the already significant market in key M2M verticals such as utilities, transport and automotive. At the end of 2013, there will be 200 million M2M device connections worldwide across various industry segments. This will increase to 2.2 billion by 2023 representing $88 billion according to the latest research from Analysys Mason.

Future growth will emerge from tailored applications for local markets, large enterprises and SMEs across existing high growth verticals as well as emerging ones. In Part 1 of the M2M series, we focused on the cool applications being developed for the Internet-of-things. For those hopeful entrepreneurs and companies out there who are busy prototyping such devices let me offer a couple of suggestions based on our experience with previous cycles of technology innovation.

Suggestion 1: Think beyond the product, to the services that the product will enable. Devices such as those I described in the previous blog are useless as independent devices. They have to interact with other devices (computers) and ultimately initiate some form of useful action. Understanding how all these elements will operate together can be just as challenging as designing the devices themselves. It is tempting to think of these tiny machines as just products that people and companies will buy by the millions. Not too likely. People will buy the services enabled by the devices, but you may need to sell the devices cheaply, or even give them away.

Suggestion 2: Build monetization into the process and define how billable events will be created and captured and how offerings can be tailored for enterprise and SME customers and local markets. Does this sound obvious? Perhaps, but nevertheless, monetization is often left as an afterthought. Companies make rushed and sometimes ill-informed decisions in the haste to get to market. By designing monetization into the service and into the business plan process, you stand a better chance of actually making some profits. That is the goal, right?

So ...you manage steps and two. What next? Perhaps you need a billing system that enables you to define, price, and bill for the services the way you want to?

Suggestion 3: Don't worry about building a billing system. Your product and your service may be new and ground-breaking, and in the past, you would almost certainly have had to build a special-purpose billing system, or heavily customize an existing system, at great expense and over a period of many months. You can still do that, of course, if you have enough time and money, but this will almost certainly take longer and cost more than you planned.

The type of billing system you need, whether you license one to run in your own data center or have a vendor run it for you, is one that was designed to be flexible enough to capture any billing event and process it into a documented, auditable charge on a bill.

You think you have a totally unique product and service? Maybe so, but your billing needs are not in the realm of science fiction. You simply need a system that is independent of the products, services and particular industry sector. It should also be capable of processing any and all billing events your product or service creates.

About Esmeralda Swartz
Esmeralda Swartz is VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud, BUSS. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda was CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. At MetraTech, Esmeralda was responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution for enterprise and SaaS products, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of resource and service control software, now part of Extreme Networks.

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