We are witnessing a revolution enabled by exponentially developing technology and driven by new business and societal needs. In our vision of the Networked Society, this evolution of technology will empower every person and business to reach their full potential, building on the fact that everything that will benefit from being connected will be connected. Connecting more than people and also everyday things is not a new phenomenon in itself. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) as a concept has been around for decades; what is new is the way connected things are becoming integral parts of solutions to benefit societies, businesses and human lives.
Machine to Machine (M2M) is well established in the Telecoms sector. Starting from enterprise applications in specific vertical domains, it has undergone an exponential growth matching today's explosion of mobile broadband connectivity. Embedded mobile broadband is now addressing a broad range of devices starting with the traditional industrial use-cases and related telemetry services, to embedded mobile broadband in high value consumer devices. M2M is evolving to support a new generation of high value services that transform and extend a product by enabling value added services and new business models. For instance, products may now be offered as-a-service generating revenue based on usage, but also new revenue streams for Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs) can be created based on after-sales value propositions such as selling uploadable pictures to FaceBook as a feature of a digital camera.
M2M enabled devices and applications are at the forefront of operational technology as businesses and organizations are using them to recalibrate their operations and market response. As M2M evolves, it brings about a greater convergence in how things are run in the future of smart technology. Operators are moving up the M2M value chain, offering richer types of services than just basic connectivity. This trend is driving the evolution of M2M solutions from vertical niches to a more advanced cloud-based proposition converging with the Internet of Things (IoT) vision. M2M platforms today enable the management of business processes around the full lifecycle of the device starting from the factory, logistics, day-to-day usage and retirement, including communication with devices on higher levels of the stack up to application level, support of Business-to-Business (B2B) processes such as procurement, billing/charging, and even Business-to-Consumer (B2C) processes such as retail towards consumers.
IoT is focused on creating value through the networked devices being connected to the internet, be they sensors or actuators built into physical objects from street-lights to wrist bands. It enables those objects to be tracked, coordinated, or controlled by capturing data about them (e.g. simple location data, or temperature), aggregating that information across the network, applying analytics to gain knowledge and insights and then acting on those acquired insights – be it taking immediate action for remote control or collecting it over time to find patterns for example for predictive maintenance. The cities that we live in are transformed through these capabilities to smart and sustainable ones. Smart sustainable cities are the ones that, as a first step, enable a richer awareness of city assets and services through data collection and resource modelling and as second step provide collaborative support tools for citizens and city authorities participating actively in improvement of the quality of city life.
Both context awareness and action support tools can be provided through IoT technologies. For example, city traffic and pollution sensors, road signs for updates and recommendation of less polluted routes, multimodal traveler support systems for sustainable travel within cities, etc.
With increasingly affordable embedded technology and networking available globally, the focus is shifting away from devices and communications to analytics and automation. In this shift, IoT has become a fundamental transformation agent across numerous sectors such as telecommunication, automotive, transport, logistics, utility, public safety and health. Emerging IoT applications address much more complex scenarios of large-scale distributed monitoring and control applications. IoT systems are multimodal in terms of sensing and control, richness in management, and distributed across large geographical areas.
This development drives the evolution of M2M solutions from vertical niches to a more advanced cloud-based proposition converging with the IoT vision.