With many advanced machine-to-machine (M2M) applications being continually introduced, experts are calling 2014 the year of integrated M2M business solutions.
According to a study conducted by Machina Research last year, the machine-to-machine industry is set to grow by 23% annually over the next decade. What today is a $ 121 billion industry will therefore be worth $948 billion by 2020.
M2M refers to any technology that allows both wireless and wired systems (cellular, wireless and fixed devices) to communicate directly with other devices. For example, a vending machine which communicates directly with a central stock system to indicate that it requires refilling.
M2M communication can be used for remote monitoring, warehouse management, remote control, robotics, traffic control, logistic services, supply chain management, fleet management and telemedicine. It forms the basis for the concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
According to Vodafone, customer demand is driving M2M uptake across all industries. They surveyed 327 IT managers and found as many as half expected to adopt the technology by 2015, with 78% seeing the adoption of devices which communicate with each other as crucial to business success.
The survey showed that the automotive industry has adopted M2M most widely, followed by energy and utilities. The growth in these sectors has been pushed by European governments and legislation which calls for the implementation of various M2M services.
For example, by 2015 all new cars in Europe must feature eCall, an M2M technology which alerts emergency services if the car is involved in an accident.
The ‘Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013 to 2018’ also picked up on the trend stating that M2M modules will grow from about 8% of device connections and close to one percent of total traffic in 2013 to more than 17% of device connections and 2% of total traffic in South Africa by 2018.
It is easy to see why companies are embracing M2M technology. It allows them to track and monitor their performance in a variety of ways. This smart metering leads to cost efficiency and better customer service. As the trend grows the costs for components and hardware will continue to drop, making M2M technology more accessible, and more companies will invest in it.