Rogers Communications Inc. expects to double the revenue it earns from the blossoming market for "machine-to-machine" wireless connections over the next two years.
Chief executive officer Nadir Mohamed said that so-called M2M connections, which Rogers increasingly provides for a range of business machines including traffic lights, parking meters and automatic teller machines, would generate more than $100-million in revenue for the company by 2015.
Canada's largest wireless carrier is enabling M2M over its nationwide wireless network and it expects to support more than 1 million such connections this year. A wide range of businesses, including those in the retail, health care, transportation and energy sectors, use M2M connections for a range of functions such as monitoring their costs or broadening their marketing reach.
"It is growing by leaps and bounds," said Mr. Mohamed, speaking at a business roundtable discussion in Toronto. "The (wireless) connection is just the starting point. What we are really talking about is businesses transforming how they work with their employees, how they interact with their customers."
For instance, Canadian Tire, which is a Rogers business customer, is outfitting all of its stores with high-density "military-grade" WiFi to connect thousands of mobile devices, including tablet computers. "Every inch of that store needs to be WiFi-enabled," explained Eugene Roman, Canadian Tire's chief technology officer. "So, we can put a device anywhere in the store to talk to the store hub to do anything we choose to do."
For instance, when a customer requests a product through its e-commerce site, tablets can connect with the hub to determine if that product is in stock. "All those decisions are machine-to-machine," added Mr. Roman. "No human is sitting there trying to figure out how to make that happen"
In order to capture a bigger slice of the emerging M2M market, Rogers has established a Wireless Innovation Centre in Toronto. It also has plans to delve into cloud-based hosted data analytics (which allows businesses to do things like control costs in their supply chains and gather data to better understand customer purchasing behaviour), while also introducing professional and managed services.
Mr. Mohamed predicted the overall market revenue for what he termed the broader "M2M ecosystem" in Canada would hit $1-billion in the next three years.