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Asset Tracking Executive Panel Seeks Market Direction

By | March 31, 2009
      [Satellite News 03-31-09] The term, “asset tracking,” long used to described a family of management and security products, may be outdated as the market sector seeks to promote more multi-functional solutions, according to a panel of executives from various manufacturers.
         "Our customers want more than just a GPS service,” Alain Nicolle, North American sales director for SkyWave, said during the MSUA-6 panel “Transportation and Asset Tracking Applications,” at SATELLITE 2009.  “I think that it would be more accurate to say that we are in the mobile remote monitoring business, as we are going beyond just asset tracking.”
          Ron Lockerby, director of channel management at Thrane and Thrane, agreed with Nicolle. “There has to be added benefits to the management tools of these asset tracking systems besides the tracking itself. Some of the most important service couplings would involve data services — such as data with GPS location elements that could be accessed on the management side,” said Lockerby.
          Another consensus reached by the panel was on the importance of modeling business plans around regional markets rather than specific products. EMS Sales Director Stephane Momy said that while the remote monitoring market is growing as a whole, the regional targets his company aims to capitalize on are constantly shifting. “A perfect example of just how important it is to model our business plans to cater to a dynamic global market can be seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. The shift from one region to another requires a complete reconstruction. The climate and physical geography of both regions is completely different. So, the needs of our customers will change just as dramatically,” said Momy.
          Pat Shay, vice president of Iridium Satellite’s data division, named Brazil as another example of a dynamic target region. “It’s a vast vertical market based on navionic applications and monitoring geographic expanses. The country is the key for the entire South American region,” said Shay.
          Clayton Smith, executive vice president and general manager of Comtech AeroAstro’s communication and signals division, said that beyond the flexibility of infrastructure, geographic diversity creates other concerns as well. “Depending on where you are in the world, you have a varying degree of security concerns to the infrastructure — from building it to maintaining it,” he said.
          On top of these concerns and the need for a variety of international business models, the executives also said that the economic climate is always on the back of their minds. “New construction of infrastructure requires financing, and I don’t have to tell anyone here that financing is a industry-wide concern,” said Nicolle.
          The range of products and services and opinions on which solutions would prove to be the most successful, however, couldn’t be more varied. Thrane and Thrane’s remote monitoring and management product, Sailor, focuses on fisheries and niche maritime industries. Skywave’s solution, based on the Inmarsat system, aims to help customers reduce operating expenses by managing land shipping fleets. Hughes is targeting subscribers in domestic market segments. Comtech AeroAstro and Comtech Mobile Data have a common strategy to corner the wireless terminal market, and EMS is looking for a piece of it all.
          “Our strategy in this market sector is to be the leader in asset tracking and remote monitoring through strategic acquisitions,” said Momy.
          Whatever solution prevails, there is little doubt over the potential of the remote satellite monitoring industry. Since 2007, the number of asset tracking and remote monitoring products and solutions has doubled and analysts predict that it will double again by 2010.   

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