My recent appointment at MyDrive has brought me back in to the world of machine to machine (M2M),having last been fully immersed in it at Orange, where I established France Telecom’s M2M business unit some seven years ago. It’s an evolving space where the opportunities seem boundless. Thefantasticalmarket size numbers rocket year-on-year, even if we remain at the ‘inflection point’ and the substantial growth isstill ‘just around the corner’.
M2M has always been characterised by the breadth and diversity of where it can be and what it can do from billboards to copiers, meters, trucks and vending machines. Whilst there are some excellent case studies demonstrating the impact of M2M, there still seem to be as many postsabout the potential as the realisation.
Key to this has always been the complexity and fragmentation in the M2M market – there are still few players that can bring a simple end-to-end business proposition. Indeed, the big telcos now have whizzy platforms and talk a good game but that’s really about the sim cards and networks.
A lot has changed in the last few years. Smartphones are everywhere. Consider that in 2006 the top five selling mobile phones were all Nokias. Today, we face the ubiquity of iOS and Android operating systems as extensions of the persona. And computer chips now sit in many everyday objects such as domestic goods, vehicles, credit cards, passports and cameras. This alone is transforming the way we now think and define M2M. These objects can act as telematics devices and, through apps, businesses can interact and engage with consumers like never before. M2M certainly has the ability to change industries – we see this today in healthcare, logistics and, of course, in the world of automotive.
Insurance Telematics, for instance, is rapidly changing from pure M2M black box to server to Smartphone to server, significantly reducing deployment costs and making marginal business cases now seem feasible. Of course this brings a raft of different challenges but nonetheless is likely to accelerate this growing market.
In addition, with cloud computing and big data now de rigueur,the capability to manage and monetise data improves month after month.
Being able to adapt to these changes is going to be key for the M2M players, the mix of which is already changing. Businesses are now much more aware of the possibilities open to them and are willing to commit hard money to try it out. It’s not just about making processes more efficient but also about changing business models to open up new revenue opportunities and establish a leading market position. Service providers that demonstrate both how they can bring meaningful value to the mega/giga/tera-bytes they capture, and remove the perceived complexity of an implementation,will be in much demand.