M2M Harnessing the Power of Connected World

The world is currently moving into an era of ubiquitous connectivity, which is transforming the operating styles and communication channels of an enterprise.

Machine to machine (M2M) communications, a solution that allows automated communication between connected devices over a wireless network, has aided enterprises in their progress to ascertain constant connectivity and real time monitoring of assets.

At a relatively lower cost compared to other wireless solutions, M2M provides a seamless mode of monitoring enterprises’ resources, be it either people or machines, to provide real time information on critical business workflows thereby increasing the efficiency manifold through constant data collection and analytics.

With this increasing need for connectivity, M2M solutions are being favored by several industry sectors such as healthcare, retail, utilities, banking, insurance, manufacturing, and automotive. The retail sector for instance, is one of the emerging verticals, which is extensively utilizing M2M, ranging from inventory management to supply chain automation. M2M solutions help in maintaining well-stocked stores with advanced solutions using item-level tagging for faster checkout from stores, building smart stores consistentwith purchasing trends and buyer preferences in a smart community.

In correlation, M2M is used in the logistics industry for better vehicle monitoring mechanisms and in the e- commerce/”click-to-buy” segment to enable quicker delivery times and tracking of shipments. Fleet management coupled with real time video monitoring solutions are seen as another emerging M2M application in the logistics vertical.

Vehicle tracking solutions enabling recovery of stolen vehicles and identification of vehicles used in theft or other illegal activities, usage based insurance aiding the adoption of tracking and monitoring solutions deployed by insurance companies to supervise the usage of insured vehicles, asset tracking used in tracking packages as they are transported either to the final end users or along the supply chain, are some of the key areas that have promoted M2M usage in the automotive and transport sectors.

Healthcare is another vertical where instances of niche M2M deployments have been witnessed. Some of the areas where connected devices have transformed the healthcare service provisioning are real time patient monitoring, home healthcare support, vehicle-to-vehicle communications enhancing emergency and ambulance services, managing and tracking of medical assets to monitor assets in the field. These exam ples stand as testimonies that M2M is revolutionizing the communication landscape amongst enterprises.

In addition to the growing inherent necessities for M2M solutions amongst enterprises, regulatory initiatives and stipulations in several industry verticals are acting as a key driver in promoting the usage of M2M solutions for efficient operations and delivery of services. For instance, Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) mandating the usage of Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) solutions in the Utilities sector is one example of such initiatives.

Similarly, financial inclusion mandates from the Reserve Bank of India have favored the usage of handheld devices for door step insurance premium collection and validation of biometric information in remote ATMs and rural branches.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) becoming a global trend and a variety of things ranging from furniture, windows in a smart home to complex machineries expected to be connected in the future, Frost & Sullivan predicts that there will be an explosion in the number of connected devices by 2020 in India.

This explosion in connected devices and the evolution of IoT to IoE (Internet of Everything) is expected to drive the usage of M2M solutions significantly as it is the right solution that matches the enterprises’ needs to equip them and harness the benefits of connected devices.

In conclusion, M2M is expected to witness immense traction in the near future as it facilitates enterprises to enhance their business operations through data collection and analytics and thereby improve productivity and customer experience.

The author is Director at ICT Practice, Frost and sullivan.

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