M2MAPPS: Let's start with a short summary of Digi's core competence and the markets you address.
JOEL YOUNG: If we have a single core competence it’s probably the fact that we’ve been enabling machine connectivity over all kinds of media for more than 30 years. That adds up to a lot of experience and knowhow. It’s the foundation on which we build solutions for our customers: it allows us to address the numerous diverse needs of the M2M marketplace. However, we do have targeted, vertical-specific offers for the energy, mobile assets, medical, tank and other sectors.
M2MAPPS: Digi has a very comprehensive offer: lots of products. How do they come together to create different end-to-end solutions?
JOEL YOUNG: If I go back briefly to our core competence, Digi’s extensive knowledge and product set allows us to address our customer’s needs. Instead of just collecting as much data as possible, we start by asking one question: what business problem are you trying to solve? Then, we come up with an outcome-based solution. We don’t need to promote one way of doing things over another: we’re technology agnostic and when you approach the market that way you must have a lot of products. Our portfolio is extensive; it includes modules, routers, gateways, development kits, etc. We also have a cloud-computing platform tailored for devices, Device Cloud by Etherios, as well as development services that help customers get to market fast with devices and applications. It allows any device to communicate with any application, anywhere in the world. End-to-end solutions are created in the cloud. We call it Device Cloud because it lets developers connect to any device over open APIs and the integration of devices with applications is simplified through something we call Cloud Connector. Apps are created using a development tool kit. As you can imagine there’s a lot of features designed to make life as easy as possible for the developers, for example, device management and troubleshooting tools.
M2MAPPS: Getting solutions out of the door in short time frames. How does Digi address that issue? Do you offer an application development platform?
JOEL YOUNG: Application development platform is a nice marketing term, but as I said a moment ago, they’re using a tool kit. The way we get solutions out of the door varies: it depends on the customer’s requirements. For example, we could take a module from one of the leading vendors and use it in an off the shelf device that’s already certified. We can also help customers write the app or they can use the tool set and write to the APIs in the Device Cloud. This may sound as if it’s obvious, but you have to start in the right place in order to have short time frames. That’s why we have M2M consultants who work closely with customers in order to understand their business processes and business drivers, which may be unique. We also have implementation and testing services that encompass everything required to get new end-to-end solutions up and running.
M2MAPPS: Presumably you also offer an Application Enablement Platform.
JOEL YOUNG: Again, I see that as a marketing term. Applications can be enabled in numerous ways that depend on the type of application and the customer’s needs. Sorry if I keep on coming back to this point, but it’s key. What kind of information does the customer want to retrieve and how should it be presented. That’s what counts.
M2MAPPS: Let’s look to the future. What is your take on LTE? How can it benefit M2M?
JOEL YOUNG: I love it. I can’t wait for the time when the world talks one language. LTE will be hugely beneficial to M2M. LTE networks are spectrally efficient, so the cost per bit comes way down and it can deliver whatever QoS the customer needs. LTE is therefore ideal for M2M’s low-bit rate traffic. In addition to being more efficient, LTE supports a lower delay time, which helps M2M applications that rely on real-time information exchanges to function. Unfortunately it has been marketed by cellular providers as a seriously high-speed service. And the MNOs are targeting video streaming to smartphones, which is where the money is and that tends to obscure the fact that LTE is 100 percent IP, in both the wireless access part of the network and the core. Moreover, the core employs OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), a technology that allows bandwidth to be assigned in a very flexible way.