Tuesday, May 25, 2010

M2M Market Opportunities - An Introduction

Now that SAP has enterprise mobility all figured out, it is time to explore opportunities in the M2M marketplace.  M2M is a vision of connecting physical things through a network that will let them take an active part in exchanging information about themselves and their surroundings over the Internet.  This will give immediate access to information about the physical world and the objects in it - leading to innovative services and gains in efficiency and productivity.

There are many ways to describe M2M - the Internet of objects, the Internet of things or embedded mobile devices.  M2M is a world filled with remote asset management monitors, wireless sensors, telematics, telemetry, smart grids, and eReaders.  The military describes this world as Network-Centric Operations. 

I wrote an article last year called Network-Centric Mobile Field Force Automation.  Here is an excerpt:  "Network-Centric operations, is a military doctrine pioneered by the US Department of Defence. It seeks to translate an information advantage, enabled in part by information technologies into a competitive warfighting advantage through the robust networking of well informed geographically dispersed forces. This networking, combined with changes in technology, organization, processes, and people enable organizations to behave and respond in ways never before possible."  Specifically, this theory contains the following four tenets in its hypotheses:
  1. A robustly networked force improves information sharing.
  2. Information sharing enhances the quality of information and shared situational awareness.
  3. Shared situational awareness enables collaboration and self-synchronization and enhances sustainability and speed of command.
  4. These, in turn, dramatically increase mission effectiveness.
Juniper Research predicts that the number of M2M (machine-to-machine) and embedded mobile devices will rise to approximately 412 million globally by 2014.  ABI Research uses a more conservative set of numbers and says that there were approximately 71 million cumulative M2M connections in 2009 and this will rise to about 225 million by 2014.  With either set of figures you get a big number.

ABI's M2M research practice director Sam Lucero encourages MNOs (mobile network operators) to "come up" with M2M connectivity platforms - robust connected device platforms.  These are applications and services that connect all of these embedded mobile devices together into a central management application that turns data into actionable intelligence.

Some of the key markets for M2M are:
  • Utilities/Smart Grids
  • Equipment Monitoring
  • Connected Homes/Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS)
  • Healthcare - Remote patient and health monitoring, medical equipment monitoring
  • Vending/POS
  • Remote Asset Management Monitoring
  • ATMs
  • Fleet Management/Automotive Systems
  • Consumer Electronics (eReaders, Wireless Printers, Appliances, Security Systems, etc.)
Think of it like this - all of these embedded mobile devices are capable of sending data to you.  What can you do with it?  Where can this data provide value?  In addition to sending data, many M2M devices can receive instructions and take action as well.

Mobility is more than just people-to-people talking on handsets.  Wireless M2M is an entirely new way of thinking.  I wonder which one of the mobility vendors in the SAP ecosystem is going to add M2M and M2M connectivity platforms to their product list.  I believe this can ultimately be a massive market.  I recently read about a GSMA prediction that M2M connected devices could ultimately reach 50 billion.  A dollar a device per month would suit me just fine.

Have you ever worked on an M2M project?  I would like to hear about it!

Here is a related video I recorded on M2M.

Kevin Benedict SAP Mentor, SAP Top Contributor,CEO Netcentric Strategies LLC
Mobile Industry Analyst, Author of the report Enterprise Mobile Data Solutions, 2009
Mobile Strategy Consultant and Web 2.0 Marketing Services
***Full Disclosure: I am an independent mobility consultant and Web 2.0 marketing expert. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.