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What Is: Machine-to-Machine (M2M)

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Following the recent launch of our “Cellular 101: A Glossary of Terms” help guide, has launched a weekly “What Is” blog series to provide even more insight into the cellular industry.

In this week’s edition we look at Machine-to-Machine.

What is Machine-to-Machine?

Machine-to-Machine refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same type. Also known as M2M, this technology partly underpins what is now known as the Internet of Things, a network of objects connected to the Internet and transferring data without the need for human interaction.

How relevant is M2M?

M2M has been around for a long time – existing in different forms since computer networking automation existed. First working over wired services, M2M now operates over cellular and satellite connectivity as well, and continues to grow year on year. Machine-to-Machine is now viewed by some as an “out-of-date” concept when, in reality, M2M has always been an industry-only term – but as the Internet of Things has developed and trended, the technology is more relevant today than ever before. Vodafone’s recent 2015 barometer report on M2M found that:

90% of organisations believe M2M is relevant to them, up from 86% in 2014

27% have an M2M project in place, with a further 37% having projects ready to go live in the next 2 years

81% of those already using M2M in 2014 said they have increased their use of it, and now use it in different ways

50% of M2M adopters say they’re using it to enable new business and operating models

On top of these key statistics, the report also found that 83% of adopters agreed that they had gained competitive advantage from M2M, while 54% reported return on investment within the first 12 months. M2M is not just growing overall, but within specific verticals as well – offering a clear value proposition to the majority of industries. From monitoring and managing remote equipment – be these smart meters or vending machines – to connecting vehicles, M2M technology is crucial to the deployment of the Internet of Things.

The Vodafone M2M barometer also reported on the key purposes organisations are using M2M for:

72% are using it to automate processes

66% are using it to gather data to support manual processes

59% are using it to enable new products and services

52% are using it to transform business processes

50% are using it to enable new business and operating models

40% are using it to improve safety and security

27% are using it to better measure service delivery

Cellular’s role in M2M

The type of connectivity powering M2M consists of fixed line, cellular and satellite but as the Internet of Things grows and more devices need to connect in a greater number of locations, cellular is becoming a leader in this space. The wide availability of LTE is enabling more advanced M2M and IoT applications than previously possible – offering higher speed, lower latency connectivity than 3G could offer – driving the growth in this space even further.