Looking Closely at the Machine to Machine Space: How Far its Come and Where its Going

By Jamie Epstein January 17, 2013

First making its way into the spotlight back in 1995, the machine to machine (M2M) vertical has changed quite a bit in almost 18 years. While referred to as the key technology that enables wireless and wired systems to work together seamlessly on various devices, M2M was once touted a direct connection while today, it is more like a system of combined networks that send and receive data.

Recently, IoTevolutionworld had the chance to speak with Matt Jennings, vice president of Solutions, Digi International, about the role his company is playing in the transitioning space, how he defines M2M and what affect the cloud as well as mobile devices could potentially have within the next year.

According to Jennings, “While our evolution and growth has been deliberate and positive, we believe we are just now beginning to realize the inflection point for M2M technology adoption. The change in discussion from technology to business impacts will be a catalyst for widespread M2M technology deployment.”

When deciding whether or not to get started on implementing a M2M suite into your business operations, you must first make several important selections that range from how the machine is physically connected and what type of communication is used, to ultimately in what ways the data will be leveraged.

“Even though it can be complex, once a company knows what it wants to do with the data, the options for setting up the application are usually straightforward,” M2M Communications reveals on its website.

Did you know that people in different verticals have varying opinions in regard to the definition of M2M? Digi International for example firmly believes “the term M2M doesn’t capture the technology’s value adequately. We prefer to use the term M2B or machine to business. M2B is about much more than connecting machines to machines. It is about business transformation and driving amazing efficiency into an organization’s process. The focus should not be on the technology. Rather, it should be on driving profits and return on investment (ROI). By animating the business value proposition, M2B becomes a more meaningful way to convey the technologies’ value across multiple verticals,” Jennings added.

One thing that everyone agrees on though in unison is that the next-generation platform significantly brings business intelligence to a whole other level as well as provides assorted analytics that help companies meet current needs as well as those in the not so distant future. As the cloud continues to gain relevance, what role will M2M play in organizations’ overall migration?

Image of Matt Jennings via Digi International

He commented, “We believe it is part of the overall migration to the cloud. Getting more ‘things’ off-premises and related to other data streams within the organization can create huge efficiencies. The complex computations and analytical models necessary to achieve those efficiencies can happen within a cloud much simpler and much more economically. “

When looking closer at devices such as smartphones and tablets, it seems as if these products truly go hand-in-hand with M2M. After all, this technology heavily depends upon these intuitive gadgets to work successfully. So as mobility is growing at a record pace, it only makes sense that mobility within M2M would be touted as a natural migration.  

“Organizations are increasingly becoming dependent on mobility to run their operations and service organizations – and to gain a competitive edge. The goal of M2M is to get the right data, to the right person, at the right time, no matter where they are located. Mobility will only enhance that value,” Jennings noted.

Technology, including M2M, is always changing. Hence in 2013, Jennings predicts that from module providers through to the end-user, the industry will continue to see more integration within the M2M ecosystem.

He concludes, “Mobile carriers will continue to invest more in new markets like M2M due to a maturing cell phone business. And because of decreased technology costs and innovation in sensor, battery and gateway technology, coupled with improved network capabilities and stability, organizations will become more open to investment in M2B technology as the business case becomes too powerful to ignore.”

M2M can bring many benefits to the table that include: improving personal safety through tracking functions, enhancing productivity and performance and even reducing costs by gaining access to real-time data. Thus, it is no secret why research firm Gartner has stated that it firmly believes M2M is one of the top 10 mobile technologies to watch, while Berg Insight forecasts the number of cellular connections used for machine to machine communication will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.6 percent to reach 187.1 million worldwide by 2014.

To see if these thoughts do indeed become a reality, be sure to keep your eyes glued to this lucrative market as well as attend the upcoming M2M Evolution conference. Taking place from Jan 29 to Feb 1. In Miami, Fla., Jennings will be speaking during the session titled, “Killer Applications in M2M Value Chain” from 1:30-2:15 p.n. on Thursday, January 31.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

IoTevolutionworld Web Editor

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