M2M and IoT: Two more acronyms that are appearing in today’s vocabulary more often.
The general public don’t know exactly what M2M is and the possibilities it offers. It’s not just about connecting your fridge to your toaster, it’s about – as Pangea’s slogan states – Connecting Everything. Throw IoT into the mix and people can get confused. Are these two different things? When do I need one or the other? Just what exactly are they?
Differences between IoT and M2M
M2M being the older terminology should be defined first. The definition is in the meaning, machine to machine communications. One thinks water and electricity meters, industrial sensors, connected trackers. The benefit that M2M brings is that it removes the interactivity requirement. M2M fits wherever there is a process, for example, rather than sending someone to report on the water meter status, you have an automated sensor in place, which communicates back to the server.
The IoT, Internet of Things, is a wider phrase, more of a catchall. If a system meets one or both of the following criteria we can consider it to be part of the IoT:
- Connects various M2M vertical “silos” together to enable a new product. For example, a connected car with a home heating system. Combined in an IoT context, the home would start warming up when the connected car starts driving back at the end of the day.
- Some form of user interaction or direct benefit. Wearable health is a huge growth area. Wristbands, connected watches all sync up to the cloud and have a new layer of big data to further analyse and help the product integrate into your lifestyle.
I think it’s very important to find differences between M2M and IoT not only from a marketing perspective, but also if you are looking to help your own business or channels win in this market. I know in our own telecoms channel market, it has been something that perhaps confused a few people initially. Just this morning I spoke to a telecoms reseller who initially said that they couldn’t see where they were going to implement our products in their existing portfolio. However, within about 5 minutes the conversation changed to them saying they actually have a customer that they could approach.
I think the markets that are really getting the benefits of what machine to machine brings them, understand that M2M is effectively all about driving efficiencies between connected devices.
In my opinion that is exactly the way you should approach the opportunities irrespective of what sector or vertical you are in. Pangea are fortunate enough to work across many sectors and see ourselves as a horizontal player when it comes to providing data in an M2M solution.
Another key difference between M2M and IoT from my perspective is that IoT is driven by a variety of connectivity types. You have things like Bluetooth, NFC and other low bandwidth near proximity data delivery mechanisms that will drive an explosion of devices, but in a market where the distance between products are important.
M2M being a growth environment continually presents new opportunities to business. Almost every aspect of the business, from the operations, customer service, logistics to name a few, are ripe for the introduction of M2M technology. Some of these can be customer facing – for example logistics can provide enhanced tracking for deliveries, allowing the customer to know exactly when something is on its way.
Smart, M2M embedded modules in devices or products can assist service or maintenance, for example hot water heaters that can report a failure, cars which have tracking for insurance purposes or can alert when there is a problem with the car.
Consumers can take advantage of the IoT wave with connected appliances such as smart TV’s and fridges. Some devices covertly also have IoT enabled but in a manner where the customer doesn’t need to know or care. For example GPS navigation units, which automatically update to the latest mapping, and e-readers connected to the internet for new book downloads without the need to use wifi, from anywhere in the world.
Big data for consumer IoT allows them to visualise and manage their home running costs in a way not thought possible a few years ago. With the ability to monitor real time power consumption and water usage, add on services can be positioned towards the consumer, for example appropriate tariffs can be suggested to the consumer and “gamification” can take place, where the consumer can view their ranking versus others.
Stay tuned for our next posts, as these will focus on different sectors.