Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is revolutionizing many areas of the global economy. At present, over 100 million vending machines, vehicles, smoke alarms, and other devices share information automatically. In 2012, Deutsche Telekom launched its M2M Marketplace and the M2M Developer Community to support solution developers and end-users in the growing market. What are we expecting for 2013?
Further growth in the M2M field is aligned to the differing demands of users worldwide. In Europe, the automotive industry will be the main market driver in 2013; especially with new regulations such as eCall, a directive that all new cars must be equipped with an automatic emergency calling system from 2015. Drivers’ demand´s will also spur automakers to create vehicles with increasingly sophisticated in-car telematics and entertainment.
Growth is also anticipated in the energy sector. An EU directive requires member-states to launch smart metering systems so that by 2020 around 80 percent of households have smart meters. We are also adopting a new approach to ensure that this target can be met. A partnership consisting of the smart metering solution provider Wireless Maingate Nordic AB and Deutsche Telekom, for example, is assisting power utilities to extend smart grids. For each newly registered data point Maingate and Telekom are financing four more.
In the United States, healthcare is likely to be a powerful M2M business driver. U.S. health insurers have already realized that remote patient diagnosis by means of telemedicine and M2M-assisted prevention programs will reduce costs in the long term. M2M applications are already monitoring cardiac pacemakers and implantable defibrillators.
SMBs are also increasingly realizing the benefits of M2M communication and demanding end-to-end solutions for all manner of purposes. This demand is fostered by cloud-based offerings and the attendant changeover from CapEx to OpEx investment models.
In the future, different customer demands will open the market up to a wider range of M2M solutions. This phenomenon will increasingly see mobile network operators (MNO) take on the role of enablers. We are the link between many small software and hardware providers and customers who would like end-to-end applications from a single source. The first steps to meet this objective have already been taken through our international programs to help partners to collaborate with a growing number of hardware and software providers. We launched the M2M Marketplace as a global, manufacturer-independent e-commerce platform in 2012. At long last companies have an opportunity to market their products worldwide. We are also simplifying cooperation for developers through our M2M Developer Community. MNOs also play a major role in security and data protection – other aspects that are of decisive importance for the acceptance of M2M. We have long had these issues on our agenda and offer a large number of certificated encryption processes. But users must take a close look at where data is stored. Telekom uses high-security data centers in Europe, where statutory data protection requirements are especially high.
M2M is not a local business, quite the opposite. To ensure international availability and common communication standards, several initiatives are already underway. Telekom along with France Telecom and TeliaSonera has set up the Global M2M Association (GMA). Its aim is to improve quality of service and increase M2M communication standards by means, for example, of network interoperability and harmonization of software interfaces (APIs). In 2013 and beyond, there will be other strategic alliances that determine the future of the market.
Low Cost Modules and New Middleware
Demand will determine which M2M solutions are successful, but without technological development these solutions will not be available in increasingly large numbers. In 2013 we will see a number of innovations take the M2M business further forward. On the module side, we can look forward to low-cost solutions from product providers. On the software side, new middleware platforms are taking shape that will make up the horizontal application layer. They will support cross-industry tasks such as setting up heterogeneous sensor networks for industrial monitoring. They will also map other aspects such as security and over-the-air updates. These horizontal middleware solutions are the software consequence of M2M reaching maturity. The aim is to map as much as possible via uniform standards so that the vertical, industry-specific aspect of a solution only comes into its own right at the end of the development process. This standardization helps to reduce costs and make M2M solutions even more accessible for a broader range of customers.
M2M Meets Big Data
Today the main focus of M2M applications is on collecting data. Monitoring solutions record a wide range of information – from the temperature and GPS coordinates of a refrigerated shipment to the vital data of a herd of cows – and store it in databases. In the future, we will be dealing with enormous quantities of data from all areas of industry and life – from energy supplies via healthcare to smart cities and the connected home. M2M is one of the developments that drives exponential data growth around the world: the big data trend. But new benefit only arises when big data can be analyzed in real time. Until now, data requests in quantity have been largely limited to individual values. Doctors, for example, keep an eye on patients’ blood sugar counts that are read, relayed via mobile networks and archived.
Connecting previously isolated, standalone data silos is also highly promising. As yet, we can barely foresee what possibilities may result for, say, epidemiology or climate research from analyzing these merged data records. What can be said for sure is that a new survey of the world awaits us, driven by automated information sharing by connected machines. So the future remains exciting. M2M has already made it to reality, and specific solutions for the widest range of tasks are in the process of being established in all industries. At the same time ample space remains for our creativity because we are only just catching sight of the next evolutionary steps.
Wavefront and Deutsche Telekom have recently established an M2M Zone at the Wavefront Accelerator Centre in Vancouver. Through the M2M Zone, Deutsche Telekom provides access to its M2M solutions and resources such as the M2M Partner Portal and M2M Developer Community and to showcase some of its solutions.