Star Gazing – 5 Predictions for M2M & IoT Trends in 2016

Star Gazing – 5 Predictions for M2M & IoT Trends in 2016

Alright so we’re a couple of weeks into 2016 so I think I’m still within the prediction grace period? If you haven’t already you can read my review of 2015 on our blog and see how my predictions from 2015 stacked up.

Last year I was fairly bullish on specific change, and that didn’t really pan out for me… This year I’m going with slightly broader strokes.

So here are my predictions for things we can expect to see in M2M/IoT in 2016, have at it:

edge computing vs cloud computing iot and m2m

A battle for the ages… – EDGE © WWE

  1. Edge Computing vs Cloud – You may have heard the term Edge Computing start to be thrown around last year, you might have even heard someone use the term FOG computing (and if you were anything like me your head immediately hit the desk). Edge computing is the concept of putting the intelligence, processing and decision making power into the device sitting at the edge of the network.
    Typically, modems/remote devices can be seen as ‘dumb’, they simply collate data from various sensors and send it back to a central server or more recently to a cloud environment for processing and decision making.
    Edge computing wants to change this by empowering the device to make decisions as soon as the data is received.
    Reducing the latency and ‘time to act’ significantly benefits autonomous or critical applications like the increasing swarms of drones and unmanned safety units being developed for agriculture and emergency applications like forest fires.
    The other benefit to processing on the edge is that it theoretically reduces the amount of data sent back over a wireless network, a device might alert someone that it is taking an action or has completed an action rather than sending a request to act, waiting for a response, then acting.
    The debate is still in its early days with proponents on both sides arguing the benefits and drawbacks, but I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more coverage of edge computing in 2016.

    LPWAN M2M and IoT

    Some of the major LPWAN players you’ll see in 2016

  2. LPWAN on the rise – 2015 saw Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) firmly insert themselves into the IoT networking conversation. Last year France’s SIGFOX secured over $100 million in funding and announced expansion plans in the USA & Australia arguably putting themselves at the forefront of the LPWAN movement, but the LoRA Alliance & Weightless SIG are also poised to make a disruptive splash in Low Power Communications.
    Australia has it’s very own Sigfox deployer Thinxtra who will be rolling out pilot sites soon. Telstra are also looking at LPWAN with a pilot in Melbourne CBD and we expect a number of LoRA alliance deployers to be hot on their heels.
    Expect more conversation and visibility of LPWAN networks in 2016 but there is still a fair amount of consolidation & brand building to be done before we reach peak LPWAN penetration.

    iot and m2m cellular decisions

    Where do we go from here? – Parks & Recreation © NBC Universal

  3. Cellular Flux – Expect the 2G/3G/4G debate to continue to rage on in 2016 with AT&T and Telstra both poised to hit the button at the end of the year with Optus and all of Singapore’s cellular providers aiming to do the same in early 2017.
    In the operator space I can see a few scenarios happening:

    • More networks announce their 2G shutdown dates – As alternative technologies become more affordable and solution providers in some parts of the world are inevitably forced to make the change, I can see more operators feeling comfortable with pulling their 2G networks.
    • LTE leapfrogging – With a strong established base of 2G hardware in Europe I can see some operators taking the Telenor approach and shutting down 3G prior to 2G in a long term effort to consolidate everything under LTE (Read about Telenor’s 3G 2020 shutdown here) It’s a smart approach as it buys more time for operators who are still rolling out LTE base stations and fine tuning coverage and it allows their customers to continue planning and designing boards without being forced into a 3G device that may not last as long as they hope.
    • Opportunistic 2G grabs – We’ve already seen M2M/IoT MVNOs making any deal they can to squeeze more life out of 2G in the USA with Vodafone still not announcing in Australia I’m wondering if we won’t see the same here. There is even talk of some independent operators/MVNOs buying old hardware and spectrum to keep 2G alive for M2M. It’s a short term gain for a decent outlay but with Asia and Europe still churning out cheap 2G hardware it may pay off.

In the hardware space 2016 there is still some juggling of frequency bands to get the right products for multiple markets together. Most customers we work with are waiting patiently for hardware compatible with Band 28 (700Mhz) which will offer the greatest LTE coverage on Telstra’s 4GX network the successor to their Next-G 3G offering.
With Telstra’s 2G shutdown looming we’ve already seen customers in Australia testing heavily with LTE in the hopes of getting everything ready to bypass 3G entirely.

Iridium Next

Irdium NEXT coming to an orbit near you in 2016…

  1. Satellite – 2015 was a relatively quiet year for M2M/IoT over satellite, expect this to change in 2016.
    Iridium will be launching their first run of satellites for their Iridium Next constellation partnering with US space exploration heartthrobs SpaceX and Russian organization Kosmotras. With SpaceX delivering a very successful launch for Orbcomm last year, Matt Desch and the Iridium team should be feeling positive. While Next isn’t scheduled to be fully operational until 2017 the increased noise and conversation around Iridium is sure to spark renewed interest in M2M/IoT applications using satellite, especially those with global implications.
    As cellular operators continue to struggle with global roaming arrangements, pricing and interconnects we are seeing lots of customers with low bandwidth global solutions opt for the satellite route. With services like Iridium’s SBD and Inmarsat/Skywave’s IDP, companies who want a solution that will work out of the box anywhere in the world without having to deal with roaming contracts, excess usage and coverage issues are finding more and more uses for satellite as the cost for hardware and airtime comes down.
iot and m2m facepalm

Face meet palm – Star Trek Next Generation © CBS

  1. Terminology – With several major organizations already making steps to remove M2M from their corporate lexicon and replace it with IoT could we have finally settled on a term for this nebulous new technology?
    The writing has been on the wall for M2M for some time now, the term is already seen by most as an “insider term” only really used by those in the industry and not something that needs to be on customer facing marketing. To the customer this connected world and everything in it is IoT. Sure some of the major players will still try and make my palm connect with my forehead by rolling out IoE, IoYT & IIoT but now we’re starting to see job titles incorporating IoT, I think we are fairly safe to say we’ve decided on a term.
    Maybe I should be filing this one under hope rather than prediction, but could 2016 finally be the year we stop with all the pointless acronyms and corporate marketing terms and just call things what they are?
    In the solutions space I’ve already started to see a move away from using “smart”, “e-“ & the dreaded “i” prefixes for products. Does anyone really use the term smart-phone anymore? It’s just a phone, they’re all smart by definition now. Likewise we’ll start to see IoT products go from being Smart Thermostats, to just being thermostats as the technology becomes commonplace.

And there you have it – My 5 predictions for M2M/IoT in 2016! Do you think these are more likely than my 2015 predictions? I’d love to hear what you think, Let us know on Twitter @M2MOneAU, on LinkedIn at M2M One or visit our website at www.m2mone.com.au.

James Mack

General Manager – M2M One

 

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

The Business of The Internet of Things – Smart Questions for Smart Devices

The Business of The Internet of Things – Smart Questions for Smart Devices

Can you feel it? That swelling, bubbling torrent of hype? It started as a gentle nudge, maybe you saw it in an article, maybe a friend mentioned it over dinner or maybe one of your colleagues suggested you start looking into it… “The Internet of Things (IoT)”

Get out of the way, the IoT is coming! - Image courtesy of Gartner

Get out of the way, the IoT is coming! – Image courtesy of Gartner

If you’re anything like me – when you first heard the term the only thing you could think of was having a stern word with the genius that came up with such a terrible name; but sure enough people stuck with it and we as an industry seem to have embraced it.

Now it’s here to stay and everyone from major news outlets like CNN, financial journals like WSJ to my favorite podcasts are talking about it. It seems like there’s no escaping it, and now you have thousands of start-ups telling you why you need their particular wireless wonder device.

But that’s nothing new to you right? As a business leader you’ve had people trying to sell you the latest and greatest solution ever since you took the job. The problem with the Internet of Things is the compound nature of it’s spawning ground – The Internet. We had a sample of this with the last big trend in enterprise IT, good old Big Data but that was manageable because for the most part it focused on business. IoT is straddling that blurry line between consumer products and business tools, which compounds the noise ten-fold.

You’ve got analysts, experts and gurus telling you that your business needs to get on the IoT train before you miss out. The glaring problem I see with this statement is that if it’s supposed to be the powerful force for change it’s being hyped to be, why is it going anywhere? Sometimes it’s not about being first, it’s about being smart and whatever you do, don’t ask the question…

“How do I get started with IoT?”

This question is the exact opposite of the million-dollar question; in fact it will probably end up costing you a lot more. Asking how assumes that you’ve answered the real question, which is “Why?”

I could introduce you to solutions that would connect nearly everything in your business to the Internet; your office heating and cooling system, your fleet of company vehicles, your electricity meters and even your vacuum cleaner, but ask yourself “Why?”

Trust me, the “How?” is going down the rabbit hole, it only leads to more questions. Start with the “Why?” and you start with a set goal that you need to achieve, this partially follows on from my previous post on control you need an outcome or you’re just throwing money at nothing.

You already have the answers

Unless you’re doing something very wrong, you are surrounded by people who understand your business inside and out, most people if they are even a tenth invested in doing a good job will have some ideas around how to make their job more efficient. The problem is they might not have the tools to do it.

That’s really the idea behind the IoT, it’s providing you with the tools to get the information you need to produce actionable results.

 

Here’s an example:

The Challenge

You’ve got an asset (it doesn’t really matter what it is); the important thing is that the more time it spends outside of a particular location (let’s say your warehouse), the more money you make.

The Solution

So you fit a tracking device that sends you streams and streams of data in real time and all of a sudden you know absolutely everything about the movement of that particular asset down to the second.

The Results

It’s great! You employ a data analyst to crawl through every single event record and location string and work out that this asset needs to spend an additional 10% of it’s time outside of your warehouse for your to make 5% more revenue this month.

But….

Here’s the problem, the capital cost of the tracking device, hiring and analyst and the monthly fee for the data costs you nearly as much as you make from the analytics. Now you’re back to square one.

You’ve done the right thing, you’ve got the smart question and now you’ve got the smart device, but your no better off than when you started.

Analyze This! As in events.. That are useful to your business - Copyright Warner Brothers Pictures

Analyze This! As in events.. That are useful to your business – Copyright Warner Brothers Pictures

Analyze events, not everything

This is because you tracked the wrong thing; you tracked the asset when you should have been tracking the warehouse.

Instead of tracking the asset all the time, you set up a geo-fence around your warehouse, now you know exactly when the asset leaves and when it comes back, all the other information you had was nice to have but effectively useless for this exercise.

By only tracking when needed you can go for a cheaper tracking device, pay less in monthly fees and you don’t need to hire a full time analyst to dig for results. That’s the true power of The Internet of Things. I know this is a rather crude and simplistic example but the message remains the same, focus on the result you need not what your M2M/IoT device can do.

So what am I really trying to say here? Yes, the IoT is a powerful movement that will change the way we interact with the world around us and you should be excited, I know I am. But like any tool the more you use it the more proficient you get with it, experiment, make mistakes but make sure you have a set goal in mind.

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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