Smart Products

September 30, 2009

Smarter M2M Services from nPhase

My first rule for smart product companies is to create a platform for delivering services with strategic value for your smart product ecosystem partners and customers. So I’ve been tracking the re-launch of nPhase as a Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless and Qualcomm joint venture focused on enabling “Smart Services.”

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This week, I had the opportunity to talk with Steve Pazol, founder of the original nPhase in 2003 as an M2M company and now President of nPhase the JV. I wanted to find out more about Steve’s goals for the new company, the relationship between old-style M2M and smart services, and what kind of smart platform nPhase is offering to its customers. Here’s a summary of our discussion.


Mary Cronin: What do you see as the difference between M2M and Smart Services?


Steve Pazol (pictured left): M2M covers what devices the company wants to connect and how they accomplish that; Smart Services addresses the “why.” As product companies get more commoditized they are trying to diversify to provide value added services that generate recurring revenues. Some of that value-add will come from collecting and analyzing all kinds of data from the products and operations in the field, on customer premises and in transit, then using the data to help customers be more efficient, productive and forward looking. That’s a great value proposition but it’s also a big leap for many industrial and consumer product companies. To get there they may have to change their own business model. So M2M enablement is just the first step in a process of developing and delivering smart services.


MC: What role does nPhase play in this process?


SP: nPhase enables companies that want to develop new services and new business models to implement and manage M2M connections and the data generated by the connected devices in a way that creates the foundation for more strategic and high-value smart services.


MC: Can you describe the nPhase platform in more detail?


SP: The enabling platform has three major components. The first provides enterprise class wireless network services that are secure and reliable. This includes more than making the basic M2M connections; it includes web portals to efficiently manage the activation and deactivation and monitoring of millions of connected devices as well as developer APIs and middleware that makes it easier to customize the types of messages and data a customer wants to use.


The second component is device performance services. This includes monitoring and diagnostics and updating services for all the connected devices. The third component is application services; storing the data and providing tools to analyze it and highlight the elements and insights that can be re-packaged by the customer for its own clients or to improve internal operations.


MC: What are the top nPhase goals for the next few months?


SP: We are putting together all the elements to work seamlessly with Verizon Wireless. Verizon will be the primary channel for delivering nPhase Smart Services to enterprise customers in the United States. We expect to establish global partnerships so that nPhase will be operating around the world. We will be helping customers with developing a business model for Smart Services to get the best return from their implementation. nPhase will also continue to expand our strategic alliance network to provide implementation support for our customers. And you can expect to see some announcements in the next few months about customers adopting the nPhase platform.

Dr. Cronin is a Professor of Management in the Information Systems Department at Boston College. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan