Well it’s that time of year again, the decorations and coming down, the left overs are being thrown away, and bloggers, journalists & enthusiasts are either getting nostalgic and writing summaries of 2014 or looking forward and making their annual predictions for 2015, and who doesn’t love a list right? – So without further ado here are my 5 predictions (in no particular order) for M2M/IoT in 2015.

  1. Definition – 2014 saw a lot of mergers & acquisitions (M&A) all over the M2M/IoT spectrum. Some were calculated and made a lot of sense; others seemed a little more scattergun and will make sense in time.
    The key thing to expect in 2015 is companies getting clearer on not only their strategy, but what their place in the market is, as both business and consumer customers have now had a taste of the hype and more than likely experimented with a number of solutions they are going to get more discerning. So it only makes sense for providers to do the same, I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot of companies stop being “M2M/IoT” companies and aligning themselves with specific verticals and markets.
  2. Security – I almost considered leaving the conversation about security & privacy off this list, as it’s really just a given and shows up every year. The more connected our lives get, the more susceptible we become to our data ending up in the wrong hands. 2014 was a big year for cyber security stories and the trend is only going to continue growing.
    For M2M/IoT this is going to pressure companies to put security at the forefront of their sales pitch as they can expect customers to educate themselves more on the; who, what, where and why of data transmission & security.
  3. Global Market, Local Champions – It’s hard to deny the global reach of M2M/IoT solutions. From a cellular perspective roaming is becoming more and more ubiquitous with global aggregators and MVNOs flexing their muscles in previously untapped markets. From a hardware perspective we’re seeing more uniformity in standards and components meaning devices can be shipped world wide with little to no modifications.
    It’s all too tempting for companies with reach and budget to “set-up shop” in new markets and try and run things like it’s business as usual in their home market. Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part but I’m hoping that 2015 is the year where the distributor model is king. It’s not just about smart business practice, as it’s much lower in terms of overheads and existing market presence but also it’s about respect, if you are a truly global business you understand that what works in your home market doesn’t necessarily work in the rest of the world and you can find ways to adapt and grow with local partners rather than throwing money at a model that is fundamentally flawed from the get-go.
  4. Interoperability – Your average consumer isn’t going to care what communication protocol you use to power their smart home they just want to know when they plug everything in, it’s going to work. Why not apply the same practice to commercial M2M/IoT applications too?
    In 2015 it’s highly unlikely that companies are going to have a single M2M solution in place that meets all of their needs, but I can guarantee that they would love to have a single dashboard or platform to manage them. I think we’re going to see a trend of collaboration and convergence between platforms, hardware and connectivity in a much more meaningful way than we have in the past. While APIs and API proxies may be the best solution we have at the moment for a cohesive customer-facing portal, I can see room for businesses that act as API aggregators for less code savvy customers.
  5. LTE finally comes to M2M – Well Long Term Evolution (LTE) has certainly been living up to the “long term” name in the M2M space. I was convinced we’d see a dramatic up take in the number of M2M devices using LTE in 2014 but we just saw smatterings here and there. With AT&T’s 2G network going the way to the Dodo and Telstra fixing to do the same at the end of 216, it’s safe to say that the pressure to make the jump to 3G/LTE is on.
    I’ve heard conflicting reports on why the uptake of LTE has been slower than expected ranging from the price of hardware/modules to waiting to see what new bands are rolled out but from my perspective one of the real issues has been carriage. Carriers have seen faster speeds causing consumers to smash bandwidth with streaming media and downloading, which has caused them to either shy away from LTE or put in restrictions and prohibitive pricing but that’s not what M2M is about. While yes some applications like Digital Signage and high definition security systems will be bandwidth intensive, M2M devices aren’t all going to suddenly jump up from using a few MB a month to a few GB. As well as a cost implication to carriage there is also a practical issue around roaming, with the current number of bands in the market it’s impossible to make a single solution that would support roaming on LTE, there are measures happening to make this easier including work from the GSMA and multi-mode/baseband processing in modules, but it’s still a way off.
    This doesn’t mean we won’t see some large activity in domestic LTE M2M products in 2015 though; it just slows down a global deployment of single SKU devices.

So in summary, I feel like M2M/IoT is going to get more focused definitions & standards, increased usability and a whole lot faster in 2015. Do you agree? Or do you think I’m way off base about something? Let me know, comment here on the blog or on any of our social media pages to join in the discussion.

James Mack
General Manager – M2M One

The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.

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