2012
11.05

Too many people are delivering too many blog posts, online articles, conference speeches, investor pitches, and sales presentations emphasizing the ‘race’ to connect ‘everything.’ All of this false urgency to deploy M2M yesterday implies that enterprises are at mortal risk if they do not deploy an M2M solution today.

 The market is telling us that they are keenly interested in and see the value of intelligent application of M2M solutions, but are not prepared to rush into anything.

In a recent survey of hundreds of IT, operations, and finance professionals from across a number of markets, evaluators and deployers ranked ‘First-Mover Plan’ as the least important strategic driver to their investment plans. Least!

 In other words, they are not racing. And they know what they are doing. For they are not only raking profits from productivity gains from IT investments, they are also suffering under some burdens from ill-conceived or implemented recent investments.

Spoiler alert:  Technology is not a panacea. Current IT evaluation, selection, deployment, and operation models are not infallible.

Surprise!  We—and I mean any of us – can think, write, speak, and act on this fact without fear of being branded a Luddite. There is more than enough evidence in the market, and not only from our survey with Connected World magazine, (of which some snippets appear in the 2013 Sourcebook) but, across a number of recent technical trends. This evidence is giving current and potential deployers cause to pause. It should influence supplier behavior, too.

What evidence, you may ask?

 1.When asked about the top strategic initiatives driving or shaping investment in M2M and connected devices, respondents to the survey rated ‘First Mover Plan’ at 2.4 on a 5.0 scale, where 5.0 was considered ‘most important.’ It was the lowest rating of any of the strategic drivers cited.

 2. When we dive into the data—by vertical market, for example—we find that in markets such as industrial/manufacturing, it rated only a 2.0.

 3.The highest rating – a 3.0 – was cited in the healthcare-services markets, where respondents cited the opportunities and competition associated with mhealth and ehealth movements as driving their ‘first mover’ energy.  But even here, it was only the fourth-highest rated strategic driver.

Beyond our survey and in our discussions with specifiers, evaluators, and deployers associated with M2M and connected devices, we discovered more evidence for a more deliberate approach.

M2M and connected-device markets are not all about the consumer economy, B2C enterprise deployments, or customer facing and revenue-generating applications. Significant, proven opportunities in M2M exist and are percolating in a broad range of B2B markets.

Many of these markets move much more slowly and deliberately than B2C. Think industrial, manufacturing, infrastructure. We witnessed their latest advances in agility during the recession. And while they do move much more quickly today than they did in 2002, they are still far more deliberate than consumers. And for good reason, their customers are businesses, and businesses tend view technology investments and capabilities far more rationally than consumers.

The legacy—perhaps now aged—clarion call of these markets has been new service creation and revenue-generation opportunities as reasons to invest in these solutions. New remote services that used to be considered differentiated or revenue generating are actually considered, in many markets, neither. Today, a number of markets, both B2B and B2C, are far more interested in compliance support and cost reduction in many cases than new revenue sources. That is the reality of the recent historical, current, and expected near-term future business case for M2M suppliers.

The market wants to see M2M connected devices as extensions of their current infrastructure—expansions of their current capabilities—not as stand-along offerings. No stovepipes. No islands. As such, and with so many critical antecedents and dependents upstream and downstream from an M2M deployment, few in most markets can afford even the suggestion of a race—for that naivety alone could get them ostracized or fired.

Here is the blunt point:  A lot of people have been racing to offer M2M solutions lately, and tripping, or crashing. And the list of losers is much longer than the list of winners. The M2M markets are telling us that they are a little or a lot weary of racing in and revising along the way. The revisions are a major component to M&O (maintenance and operation) expense.  M&O expense is a primary barrier to deployment.

In my next few posts, I will share more about how the current and emerging M2M markets are really working, and how that reality is a little—or a lot—different from certain conventional wisdom.

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