This time last year M2M Now asked the industry for its predictions for 2013. And looking back from the start of 2014, writes Georgina Elrington, many of those predictions were spot on.
In summary these predictions for 2013 were:
- The emergence of open M2M platforms
- Sector progression in automotive, NFC, payment processing, and healthcare
- More industry consolidation, plus the emergence of more partnerships and standards
- Module vendors competing with mobile network operators (MNOs), and
- Re-farming 2G spectrum, plus the migration to 3G and 4G.
So where do we go from here in 2014? M2M Now has turned to some of the industry’s leading figures to find out what’s in store for the 12 months ahead regarding machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT), and here is their thinking.
End of 2013: 3.2 billion M2M connections made.
End of 2014: 4.1 billion M2M connections forecast.
Source: Machina Research
Platforms: John Horn, president of RACO Wireless, said that we are entering the ‘Year of the M2M Platform.’ He proffers that as platforms evolve from a wholesale status, they will become a sophisticated and integrated element of an end-to-end offering, enabling enterprises to: scale rapidly; choose from connectivity options; access a flexible, rich application and feature set; as well as gain easier control of the full M2M solution through dashboards and more dynamic analytics.
Horn also highlights that bandwidth regarding LTE will gain considerable traction due to its capacity to service verticals requiring high throughput and spectrum efficiencies (auto, infotainment and digital signage sectors). 2G will hold its position as a proven standard for applications that don’t require a lot of bandwidth (asset tracking and fleet management). And 3G will continue to fade into M2M obsolescence as applications with high bandwidth requirements focus on 4G.
Further, more enterprises will recognise M2M’s potential as a new revenue stream, rather than just a way to save money. Horn says this will manifest in sales of connected devices, value-added services and applications (as businesses find users more willing to pay recurring charges for premium services); and business intelligence from more informed, data-lead decisions; as well as revenue derived from monetising collected data and its analysis.
In December 2013, Machina Research published ‘M2M Global Forecast & Analysis 2012-22’, its annual review of the state of global M2M adoption across 12 sectors. The company will shortly publish its full set of predictions for the M2M market, says Matt Hatton, director. In the meantime, M2M Now has obtained the following forecast insights from Machina for you:
- Dawning realisation of the evolution from M2M to IoT. 2014 is when the IoT buzz from 2013 becomes a reality. The old ‘stove-pipe’ M2M application approach is giving way to more integrated development which draws from a wider range of data sources (including M2M connected devices of different types, and also corporate and other IT systems) and stitches these together with more sophisticated applications. This evolution presents massive opportunities but also threatens to sideline any company in the M2M ecosystem that does not evolve.
- Some of the many challenges of big data analytics in M2M will be addressed. One of the keys to unlocking the value of M2M/IoT lies in data analytics. Machina expects great strides in 2014 in terms of the various stakeholders addressing issues of security, privacy and consent, as well as taking the first faltering steps towards monetising this immensely valuable asset.
- More M&A is coming. The M2M industry is evolving very rapidly and with changing dynamics. Machina therefore expects more consolidation, as major players gear up to become full service providers.
- Low power wide area networks will see much more widespread deployment. As an industry we’re going to see some much more substantial deployments of low power wide area radio access technologies such as SIGFOX and Weightless. These networks are perfect for many M2M applications and we expect a number of announcements of network deployments during 2014.
- Connected homes finally arrive. They’ve been promising so much for so long, but 2014 looks like it will be the year when it actually gains momentum.
Jürgen Hase, vice-president, M2M Competence Centre, at Deutsche Telekom, expects that in 2014, Smart Factories will foster individual manufacturing: In his view, industrial applications are the all-time paragon of M2M. Initiatives such as Industry 4.0 – a high-tech strategy of the German Government – bring connected technologies in manufacturing processes back into the spotlight. The targeted point of arrival is the Smart Factory which is ruled by totally new modes of production. It takes individual customer requirements into consideration and models both business and engineering processes dynamically.
For Smart Cities: Rising populations and declining budgets are inducing cities to deploy M2M-connected public sector ICT solutions to make complex administrative tasks more manageable, and ultimately improve the level of service for citizens. Hase also predicts New Tracking Ground as personal tracking devices and wearable technology will boom. Decreasing prices of track-and-trace modules suggest that we will also witness the next generation of small and affordable tracking entering the market.
Security: Tim ‘TK’ Keanini, chief technology officer at Lancope, a network visibility and security intelligence company, indicated that while 2014 might not quite be the ‘Internet of Everything’, it will be the ‘Internet of Somethings,’ and those somethings will need to be secure.
Verizon believes that M2M ‘as a Service’ simplifies the path to the connected world. Ubiquitous 4G LTE wireless services, and the availability of M2M as a service – on demand, over the internet and ready to use – coupled with strong security, will overcome the issues that have previously prevented many organizations from fully embracing M2M.
Will 2014 be profitable?
Caroline Gabriel, research director at wireless infrastructure analyst firm, Maravedis-Rethink, said that one of the biggest challenges for MNOs in 2014 is figuring out how to make money from the IoT. Most activity in 2014 will remain in traditional M2M sectors like automotive and industrial. However, as these applications start to require broadband rates, and the intelligent home market grows, operators will have the chance to play a big role in the value chain via their SIM cards.
Apps: The professional services market, centred on the development and management of apps, will become increasingly significant in 2014. The emergence of more mobility and high-speed networks will help as businesses find new ways to engage with customers directly via their devices. Mobile applications will be developed in the cloud for deployment on any device or sensor, and platforms that allow this kind of development will become more widely used.
Finally, Andrew Milroy, vice president of the ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, also predicts that the IoT is set to be a key area for IT buyers and sellers in 2014. He said: “The explosion of IoT activity over the next few years will be driven by the nexus of low-cost sensors, cloud computing, advanced data analytics, and mobility.”