If you are desperate for a fizzy cold drink on a hot summer day but don’t have coins to use in the Coke vending machine then don’t despair! Just send a text message with a product code and ‘Short Code’ displayed on the vending machine and in less than a few seconds out pops your diet Coke and the transaction charged to your mobile phone bill! That is just two transactions between machines (i.e. the mobile phone and the vending machine), a request and a response, mediated through the mobile operator’s content management platform. This has been possible for the last 10 years or so with 2G (i.e. second generation) mobile technology.
With ubiquitous availability of broadband, smart phone and tablets machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies are shifting gears to offer unique customer experiences while allowing businesses to run better. Vending machine space is one of a number of areas in which mobile service providers are offering services outside the remit of traditional telecoms business in partnership with retailers and utility companies. The huge volume of data that these machines are expecting to generate is likely to explode. This is part of the Big Data revolution that is taking place in the Telecom, Retail and Utility industries. In addition to enabling vending machine owners to monitor stock remotely, the partnership will allow mobile service providers to engage with customers in new ways, including location-based advertising and mobile payments. It is not just vending machines, applications in the areas of automotive, retail, security and utilities are expected to lead market growth for M2M. The opportunity provided by this is enormous for Big Data analytics.