Machine to machine (M2M) adoption has increased by more than 80%, with over one-fifth of companies now actively using the technology.M2M, which connects previously isolated machines or devices to the Internet to make the Internet of Things (IoT) possible, is set to grow from 4,4-billion connected devices this year to 10,3-billion by 2018.
These are among the findings from Vodafone’s M2M Adoption Barometer, a survey carried out by Circle Research, that captured the views of more than 600 executives involved in setting M2M strategy in seven key industries across 14 countries.
Three sectors have emerged as front runners in M2M with nearly 30 % adoption rates: automotive, consumer electronics, and energy and utilities.
Automotive is the most mature of the sectors where M2M is now seen as an enabler for additional services such as remote maintenance and infotainment.
M2M adoption in energy and utilities is also growing rapidly as ‘smart’ home and office services such as intelligent heating and connected security gain popularity.
Vodafone’s report shows that the consumer electronics sector is at the forefront of a shift from the warehouse to the living room. This uptake is being fuelled by the use of M2M in connected devices such as smart televisions and games consoles.
The research shows that nearly three quarters of consumer electronics companies will have adopted some form of M2M by 2016, whether for new products, logistics or production.
Similarly, the report anticipates that 57% of healthcare and life sciences companies will have adopted M2M technologies by 2016.
Take-up in the transport and logistics sector will be driven by fleet management benefits, as M2M-led routing, job allocation and maintenance schedules become even more evident.
While more firms are seeing a return on investment from M2M than last year – 46% of respondents cited a “significant increase” compared with 36% in 2013 – there are still some barriers to adoption, including managing security concerns and the challenges of global deployment.
As predicted in last year’s Vodafone M2M Adoption Barometer report, the US has been overtaken by the Asia Pacific region as the geography with the widest adoption of M2M. This year’s report suggests that by 2016 the gap will be negligible with all regions close to a 55% average for adoption.
Tony Smallwood, head of M2M at Vodacom Business, says: “This year’s report leaves no doubt that momentum is accelerating as companies and public sector organisations begin to realise the commercial potential of the connected machine ecosystem.
This technology is transforming whole industries as organisations find new ways to operate and engage with their customers and value chains.
“M2M is moving from the back-office to centre stage, with the Africa continent set to realise benefits from M2M technology solutions.”
According to Matt Hatton, principal analyst at Machina Research. “The most interesting finding from my perspective is the range of different reasons companies are giving for deploying M2M.
“Historically, M2M technologies have tended to be bolted on to add an additional cool product feature or to monitor some kind of internal process. We now see M2M is becoming fundamental to how organisations do business; in some cases, M2M adoption is also creating new business opportunities. These technologies are radically changing the way in which companies serve – and communicate with – their customers.”