It is an exciting time for M2M technology as the market has grown significantly in the last 12 months. We are seeing startups forming at a very rapid pace and a large number of major tech companies announcing big investments in the M2M space. My work with global leaders in the M2M space has given me a unique vantage point from which to reflect. As I look back on 2013 and consider our initiatives for next year, I want to offer up some of my M2M market predictions for 2014. I provide this forecast not only to share knowledge with customers and market participants, but also to establish an open dialog on the evolution of such a promising technology area.
1. Customers with existing M2M applications will start to consume more data.
Trends point to more application usage and more applications per deployment. An example is a heavy equipment operator was only looking at location of asset previously. Now that same organization is starting to log alarm and usage data on the equipment through the same or new application add-ons.
2. M2M solution stack will start to mature, both horizontally and vertically.
There are many vertically integrated platform models currently in use for M2M applications. We will start to see clear layers in the coming year, as well as players focused in each layer. For example, experts in data, device, and equipment security layers in M2M platforms — as well as providers of device authentication technology — are already starting to lay claims to their expertise in their respective areas. Also, specialized and vertically oriented solutions will start to emerge, for example in worker safety and water management.
3. More high-speed devices will enter the scene.
Large number of 4G and LTE devices will start to show up for use in M2M applications. As customers increase their use of data and more media-rich applications for M2M (see #1 above), demand for these higher speed devices will increase.
4. Security will become the #1 need of an M2M application.
To date, companies deploying M2M solutions have looked to ROI as the #1 need. As the need/ROI of these solutions becomes well known, focus is shifting to the security of these solutions.
5. Deep analytics will become the #1 want.
Just like Security is the #1 need, deeper Analytics is the #1 want. Each M2M solution starts its journey with the “lowest hanging fruit” use case. However, customers soon realize all the data that they can collect, but are not sure of the learnings that this data can provide. Analytics that can tell them things they did not even know they were looking for will become a top want for customers.
6. Distributed analytics will emerge.
To date, most M2M applications are designed to collect data and then analyze or react to it. As the solutions mature, customers will start to learn to make decisions at different points of the solution. Again think of a heavy equipment machine that can detect local alarms — and can make decisions to directly dispatch for repair or parts, ignore the alarm if it is transient, or choose to update a log locally. The decision on how to react to the data is made at multiple places.
7. Cloud is the network, and network is the cloud.
Solution developers think of cloud and network as two separate entities, and they are. But, more and more the communication and storage mechanisms will be controlled in the same place or tightly integrated. This will be a tremendous relief for application developers and solution administrators.
8. Elephants will start to dance in Enterprise M2M.
We have already heard from some major companies like GE and GM making strong commitments to enabling connectivity and providing M2M solutions for machines and assets they manufacture. This is starting to send a ripple effect in the larger and midsize manufacturers, and the adoption will continue.
9. Global growth will begin to catch up to growth in developed countries.
Depending on which analyst you follow, the U.S., Japan and a couple of EU countries have been leading the wave of M2M solutions, both in the enterprise and consumer space. We will see strong growth in the number of countries deploying M2M solutions, especially in Asia and Latin America, both for local deployments and in global supply chain tracking solutions.
10. Mainstream developers will start to pay attention.
M2M solutions have been a domain of niche developers. As the solution stack is maturing and mainstream development environments and models are starting to include M2M and Internet of Things capabilities, we will see more and more developers start to experiment with M2M applications.