The prairie province of Saskatchewan in west-central Canada may be sparsely populated with 1.1 million people spread over 251,700 square miles, but thanks to SaskTel, residents and businesses enjoy some of the most advanced technology communications services available anywhere in the world.
As the largest regional provider serving residents of the province for more than a century – SaskTel has a reputation as a forward-looking early innovator in fiber, wireless and IPTV.
In planning its strategy for what’s next on the technology roadmap, SaskTel’s leadership zeroed in on the implications of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the potential revenues it could deliver over the long-term to SaskTel’s bottom line, as well as the benefits to the entire provincial economy.
“Our motto is that ‘SaskTel has everything you need to keep you connected to your world,’” says Daryl Godfrey, Chief Technology Officer. “We have a long history of firsts and wanted to continue that tradition within the enterprise market.”
Finding the right platform for innovation
In its strategy to take advantage of expanding their enterprise business, SaskTel sought out a telecommunications partner with the technology and know-how that would allow the company to quickly participate in this growing market segment as an early adopter.
“The whole direction of machine-to-machine and Internet of Things is substantial,” states Stacey Sandison, Chief Strategy Officer, SaskTel. “We wanted a solution that created new revenue streams, met the needs of our customer base, was simple, flexible and economical to implement, and supported a range of industries.”
Ericsson's Device Connection Platform (DCP) solution
Working collaboratively with the Ericsson technology team, SaskTel selected Ericsson's Device Connection Platform (DCP) – a cloud-based service for connectivity management to enterprise customers that offers an intuitive self-service model. The platform supports operators in building up M2M business by providing support for managed connectivity throughout the life cycle, including sales preparation and business expansion.
“We chose to work with Ericsson because of their knowledge around industry direction and understanding of best-in-class implementation,” said Sandison. “Ericsson comes to the table with a very structured and disciplined approach to onboarding their carriers to the DCP platform with a clear view of process, agenda, timeline, accountability and delivery.”
SaskTel’s strategy team had identified specific industry targets to implement M2M and IoT applications in their basic business based on the region’s business environment. Half the wheat in all of Canada is grown in Saskatchewan, so the agriculture industry is a large natural customer base with millions of dollars of revenue attached to it.
Targeted opportunities to ensure ROI
“An example where the Internet of Things and M2M could immediately benefit our agricultural business base can be seen in how farmers store and monitor their grain in bins,” says Sandison. “We have a particular partner and application provider who went down the path of creating a sensor application that would tell the farmer about the grain sitting in their storage bins. As you can appreciate, it costs a lot of money for a farmer to grow and store that grain. That is their livelihood. If that grain gets wet or freezes, or the temperature or humidity changes, that starts to degrade the quality of that asset and it has a huge financial impact on that farmer’s return.”
This early application is validation of how M2M applications can enhance the region's economic growth. “I can see a future where farmers are monitoring and communicating with remote controlled machinery. There is unlimited potential here for the types of services that can be provided in the future,” adds Godfrey.
Other M2M market targets for SaskTel include the insurance industry and fleet management. “We want to be able to work with our insurance providers and their end customers to give them more information about the asset that they are protecting with data provided through the use of our M2M platform. SaskTel is also seeking to partner with companies with large trucking fleets to improve their efficiency and safety.
“With partnerships like the one we have defined with Ericsson,” says Sandison, “we feel that we are in a wonderful market position to be able to satisfy our customers and meet the long-term goals of our company around revenue and profitability.”