The use of the wired and wireless Internet is gradual but inexorably broadening. One of the great trends is that the Internet is being employed to convey information between inanimate objects. This process, which is short-handed by the name machine-to-machine (M2M), is transformative.
The best way to sum it up is just to say it’s a big trend because there are a lot more things on earth than people. The deepness of this change is clearly described in the conclusions reached by Mind Commerce’s study, “M2M Technology Drivers, Market Dynamics, and Industry Verticals,” which was released last week. One conclusion is that M2M is beginning to impact specific verticals, including automotive insurance, manufacturing, health care, distribution and energy. A related conclusion suggests how comprehensive the impact will be:
M2M is poised to change, and in some cases, revolutionize these industries as we know them, presenting new opportunities for growth, expansion, efficiency and profitability.
That’s no small prediction. InformationWeek, in its story on the Mind Commerce study, spoke to author Dennis Lottero, an analyst at M2M Advisors and the author of the report. He cited an example of how M2M will be used:
Progressive Insurance is one such company. Its Snapshot module is an M2M device that's roughly the "size of a Zippo lighter," said Lottero. The module plugs into a car's OBD-II diagnostic connector and tracks driving habits over a 30-day period, including the number of miles driven, how hard the driver brakes, and how often he or she drives between midnight and 4 a.m.
There are two takeaways from the example. One is that Lottero isn’t a young guy if he uses Zippo lighters to illustrate his point. More importantly, it suggests that M2M is a massively powerful tool that is involved at a deep level in the activities with which it deals.
It behooves the industry to understand a technology destined to become so pervasive. ABI Research released a report last week focusing on two main enabling technologies for M2M: application enablement platforms (AEPs) and connected device platforms (CDPs). The firm described the technologies, which it said will generate $3.85 billion in revenue by 2017, in a report released last week:
AEPs try to do what mobile application development platforms do for smartphone applications – decrease M2M application development time and extend application reach. AEP application development functionality seeks to abstract away from the developer those aspects of the application that are common across many M2M applications such as data normalization and a data rules engine. CDPs automate the provisioning and management of M2M module connectivity, which is critical in this low ARPU market. CDPs also provide connectivity monitoring, real-time charging and policy control, and can integrate with existing BSS and OSS platforms.
That research dovetails nicely with research from Frost & Sullivan. The firm looks at the European M2M market and surmises that carriers must build intelligence into their products in order to remain competitive.
The bottom line is that M2M’s upward trajectory will accelerate — and quickly. For instance, M2M may well have been the star of the CTIA MobileCON show in San Diego last week. Connected World reported that M2M announcements or new product introductions were made by Symantec, Inmarsat, Wyless, RACO Wireless and Multi-Tech.