Mobile phone driven customer growth has reached the saturation point in many regions of the world and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are looking for new applications, new markets and new technologies for their next phase of growth. Machine to machine (M2M) devices and applications are an area of wireless data usage with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 25% per year through 2014 and a projected need for up to 50 billion M2M devices by 2025. In addition, low churn rates, low acquisition and operational costs, expected long product lifecycles, and a market that needs many additional value added services makes this a compelling market opportunity for many MNOs.
Why is the M2M market interesting for enterprises? Nearly all high value assets and equipment that are remote or mobile could benefit from having an embedded mobile device in sensors and monitors that provide information wirelessly back to the asset management and tracking system at the office. Pressure gauges, measurements, volumes, temperatures, operating hours, mileage, etc., can all be collected and wirelessly sent to the central management system.
When a piece of remote equipment begins having problems, an alert can be wirelessly sent to the asset management and work order management system so repairs can be scheduled. Maintenance schedules can also be set based upon data collected by remote monitors.
Embedded mobile devices can also be implemented to both send and receive data. Some M2M systems provide the capability for instructions to be sent to remote monitors that will change settings on equipment. I have read about large trucks having their engines adjusted remotely to improve performance or fuel mileage.
I believe that mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAPs) may expand to support M2M data integration that will be used by enterprise asset management systems. The data, whether coming from a smartphone or a remote sensor, looks the same to the platform. It is just data coming in wirelessly to the system.
There are some very interesting M2M companies that provide wireless networking solutions that enable enterprises to access, analyze and leverage information from their geographically dispersed assets. It is interesting to read about how their solutions are being implemented and the ROIs their customers are experiencing.