Where to Now for M2M?


What would life be like without the benefit of M2M (machine-to-machine) data? This was a central question raised at the 2012 Connected World Conference, which wrapped up last week in St. Charles, Ill. In her keynote address, Peggy Smedley, editorial director of Connected World magazine, outlined many ways M2M technology and connected devices are changing the way society accesses data; it seems we will never go back to the way things were.

During her keynote address, Smedley suggested the M2M projections and number crunching are best left up to the analysts. As if on cue, a new report from research and market-intelligence firm Analysys Mason, www.analysysmason.com, suggests a new benchmark for M2M: 2.1 billion connected devices worldwide by 2021, which would mean a 20x increase within the next decade.

But where will we see this growth? The Analysys Mason report indicates several vertical markets will experience impressive CAGR (compound annual growth rates), including utilities and automotive. The firm says M2M solutions in the utility sector may account for up to two-thirds of the world’s connections by 2021, with a CAGR of 50%. Meanwhile, the automotive sector of M2M is expected to generate the most revenue, driven by consumers’ desire for connected in-vehicle solutions.

According to participants in a Carrier Roundtable session at the 2012 Connected World Conference, growth in M2M will be determined by the customer experience. Jeremy Korst, vice president of wholesale (MVNO/M2M) for T-Mobile USA, www.t-mobile.com, says in order to be successful, an M2M solution needs to solve a human problem.

Panelist Wayne Ward, vice president of emerging solutions for Sprint, www.sprint.com, agrees with Analysys Mason’s projections about the automotive sector, saying the carrier’s focus right now is connecting “things on wheels.” Glenn Lurie, president of emerging enterprises and partnerships for AT&T, www.att.com, added that the next frontier for AT&T is the connected home.

Lurie’s statement correlates with AT&T’s announcement of its Digital Life platform earlier this year. The platform offers customizable, Web-based services for energy, security, and home automation for home or business.

Additional projections in the latest Analysys Mason report suggest M2M connections over fixed-line networks are on the decline as more enterprises turn to mobile networks, decreasing from 20% in 2011 to less than 10% in 2021. Overall, impressive growth is expected to occur in all sectors, catapulting the penetration of M2M in developed markets from just 5% last year to 86% in 10 years.

To reach this new benchmark, M2M solution providers must keep an eye on the user experience and ensure solutions add palpable value to businesses and consumers.

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