M2M – the future is already here

We tend to talk about M2M, or IoT, in the future tense. We tend to think of it as discussion material at conferences. We remember, through a cloud of pain and claustrophobia, that cars seemed to outnumber people on some of the stands at the Mobile World Congress.

This “technology slice through almost all of the markets on earth” is already here and growing. Vodafone now does an annual survey to keep track of its progress. This year, the company surveyed 600 executive across a broad range of industries and found that 22 percent of companies are already using it – an 80 percent increase on last year.

The three industries that are the early adopters are automotive, energy and utility and consumer electronics. Manufacturing is not far behind. Automotive is the leader by a steering wheel.

However cynical we might get about the connected car, this seems to be where telcos are focusing first. This may be because it allows senior telco executives to try out some cool new toys, or where they feel they get some early wins and deliver value.

In an interesting development, Blackberry, the device manufacturer we love to hate, has hived off its R&D capability not to another communications company but to Volkswagen. AT&T has announced that you can add your car to your shared data plan. Navigation and monitoring are obvious car based solutions – as long as common sense prevails and they do not try to put too many gadgets in. Then the Regulator will tell you that you can’t use them because it is dangerous.

Until, of course, we meet Google’s driverless car coming the other way.

The car, like the home, is also an area where we can get beyond ‘data.’ It is of intrinsic value, and beloved in itself. To some it is a work of art. Easy to add value, protecting it and keeping it in pristine condition.

One thing is becoming increasingly clear. There are opportunities out there for the new look telco that replace lost revenues from voice and SMS by multiples of ten. What is encouraging, indeed almost exciting, is that they are out there grabbing them in many different arenas.

With the top uses for real-time charging and policy management supporting collaboration with OTT players and others in two years’ time, according to the latest report from the TM Forum, it is safe to say that the innovation will be coming from the telcos.

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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