Machine-to-machine (M2M) is technology that supports communication (typically wireless) between machines. An example of M2M technology might be a set of devices that monitors traffic in a city and communicates the information to a network operation center which, in turn, controls the city’s traffic lights to optimize traffic flow.

The M2M (machine to machine) category is broad.  What’s not clear is a standardized categorization of M2M segments.  At AT&T Mobility, we organize M2M into eight vertical segments:

  1. Asset Tracking (referring primarily to mobile assets such as intermodal container and usually includes GPS capability),
  2. Fleet Management,
  3. Remote Monitoring (referring primarily to fixed devices such as an electric meter),
  4. Security,
  5. Telematics,
  6. Wireless POS (Point of Sale), and
  7. the emerging verticals of mHealth (mobile health) and
  8. the Smart Grid.

AT&T Mobility has dedicated teams that are focused on developing Smart Grid and mHealth solutions.

What is clear is that the M2M market is rapidly growing and has a bright future. AT&T Mobility has been consistently adding about a million connected devices per quarter to its mobile network.  However, in the fourth quarter of 2010, AT&T Mobility recorded more than 1.5 million net additions, including both consumer devices and enterprise M2M connections.  This brings its total to nearly 11 million devices.

According to ABI Research, M2M connections will reach in excess of 297 million in 2015, up from 232.5 million the previous year. Europe will lead the way with 110 million connections, followed by North America with 79 million and Asia-Pacific with close to 66 million.  The GSMA, a trade body for the mobile industry, estimates that there will be 20 billion devices connected to the web by 2020.  From a revenue perspective, according to the research company IDC, the value of the market, including hardware and connections, will reach $7 billion by 2014.

Fully realizing the benefits of M2M will depend on how effectively whole product solutions (defined as the minimum set of products and services necessary to fix a customer’s problem) are delivered to the market.  To that end, AT&T recently announced its latest new M2M partners:

  • The company is working with cloud-based M2M platform provider Axeda, which has traction in the industrial, medical, IT, banking, retail and government sectors;
  • ILS Technology, which provides monitoring and predictive maintenance applications in the building automation, data centre, energy management, and industrial markets;
  • SensorLogic, which specializes in fleet management; and
  • Sierra Wireless, developer of the AirVantage cloud-based service and development platform.

The M2M ecosystem is gaining traction and is here to stay.

Are there ways in which your company is using M2M?
Ways in which you’d like your company to use M2M?