Having essentially been in the machine-to-machine business since its inception, it is amazing to see where we have come from. Like watching a small ripple in the ocean grow to become a powerful wave, the Internet of things has been building at a breakneck speed to bring things and people together. Many experts expect the momentum of the M2M wave to even accelerate its rate of growth and coverage. With this industry growth we are seeing some advanced innovations that touch almost every part of life.
Through innovative M2M applications, intelligence is being spread across a variety of verticals. Farming, for instance, has seen some major technological developments. Many vineyards are now equipped with sensors that are able to monitor an assortment of characteristics from soil moisture levels to trunk diameter – giving farmers real-time, remote intelligence and control of their product.
Home security is experiencing an extreme makeover as its market demands greater control of everything from home appliances to energy and water use. It is amazing that a homeowner can now lock the front door to his or her home, turn on the lights, and start the dishwasher while sitting in a different country.
The healthcare world is also being profoundly touched by the development of M2M technologies. It is now well within the realm of possibility that through a sensor or device worn on the body, data relating to the health of a person’s heart can be wirelessly transmitted to a monitoring service that identifies any irregularities. If irregularities are found, the proper preventative steps can then be taken to avoid a potential catastrophe.
With just a few examples of the application of this technology, it is easy to see how bright the future of M2M could be. However, just like the wave that was previously mentioned, I believe with the growth that we are seeing and forecasting, we will reach a breaking point unless scale can be improved.
Currently the M2M ecosystem is very fragmented with specialists scattered across the globe. We see little niches everywhere, from certification experts to software developers. While this diversity has been great for innovation, there will come a time (very quickly) that scale will be needed to meet the tsunami of demand.
The projections are well documented with anywhere from 12 billion to the infamous prediction of 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020. Wherever the number falls, people from outside of our world are taking notice – particularly in the capital markets.
Private equity giant Blackstone has entered the game in a big way. Even global conglomerate General Electric has committed more than $100 billion to ride this wave. Giants like HP, IBM (News - Alert) and Intel also see a blue ocean of opportunity. Both the likely and unlikely are all looking to get behind M2M, and this momentum could not come at a better time.
We are at a point in the M2M industry where the market is demanding increased and improved scale from everyone, carriers to customer service specialists. This industry is ripe for consolidation and in order to realize the growth ahead, business needs to be made easy. The fragmented ecosystem that we now live in must be brought together. It must be easy for solution providers to meet the needs and growing scale of their consumers that are coming en masse.
Historical challenges of managing devices, especially those that cross borders, must be simplified. That means developing continuity with mobile networks and overcoming regulatory hurdles; even supply chain capabilities for module manufacturers will need to develop. All of these things and more are necessary to maximize both the financial ROI and user benefit of M2M.
As we move forward and momentum continues to build, I believe that the industry will experience a major transformation in the way that business is done. No longer will it be led by individual and separate specialists with limited scope, it will be led by those having a combination of the proper global resources and alliances, experience, and tools.
While innovation started the ripple that created the wave we find ourselves in today, it will be simplicity and developing ways to make business even easier that propels the wave to greater heights.
John Horn is president of RACO Wireless (www.racowireless.com).
Edited by Brooke Neuman