In 2015, the Internet of things (IoT) made its mark on both enterprises and consumers and became a driving force for innovation in our cities, homes, cars and workplaces. Vodafone and other companies like Skypatrol predict this momentum will continue into 2016 and beyond. Leaders in every industry are recognizing the potential of IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies as they are increasingly used to transform businesses. The Vodafone M2M Barometer 2015 found that more than a quarter of all companies worldwide are now using M2M technologies. M2M is finding its identity as a vital business solution that touches everything from back-end operations to customer experiences. We can soon expect even greater growth and increased focus on sophisticated and meaningful solutions. As we move into the 2016, it’s not a matter of “if,” but “how,” companies are using M2M to transform their businesses. Based on an interview with Andrew Morawski, head of M2M for the Americas at Vodafone, we offer six predictions for the M2M market in 2016 and beyond.
M2M Will Move Out of the Back Office
M2M has traditionally been used to automate internal business processes. Today, companies across a variety of industries are evolving their M2M strategies to innovate, drive new customer experiences and increase revenue through more sophisticated, customer-facing connected products and services. In fact, 66 percent of those already using M2M say that their strategy today focuses on external stakeholders. As M2M moves outside the IT department and plays a larger role in customer experience and competitive advantage, Vodafone predicts that by 2016 more than a third of businesses will describe their M2M projects as innovation projects, rather than IT projects.
M2M Deployments to Get More Sophisticated and Deliver Greater ROI
Businesses that are more sophisticated in their deployment of the technology, for instance linking M2M with cloud platforms and big data analytics, will see the greatest positive impact in 2016. While analytics has often been integrated in M2M solutions, it has now gone from a “nice to have” to an essential part of a holistic M2M solution. Sixty-nine percent of those most sophisticated organizations say that M2M has “fundamentally transformed” their businesses. Going into 2016, organizations considering M2M will need to take a sophisticated approach—and vendors will be expected to deliver.
IoT Will Become Vital to the Customer Experience
Two-way communication is now enabling more sophisticated customer-facing applications. Users are starting to innovate and use M2M to drive superior customer experiences and increase revenue through customer-facing connected products and services. Additionally, this year, M2M adoption in the retail sector grew 88 percent, as retailers and marketers began to realize the value of IoT for customer experience. M2M was previously only used for solutions like smart vending machines, but retailers now understand that M2M can strengthen the shopping experience through personalization, smarter payment methods and digital signage. In 2016, Vodafone expects that the use of M2M and IoT applications for customer experience will go mainstream across industries.
A New Focus on Connecting the “Things” That Matter
With all the buzz around the Internet of things, companies have rushed to connect almost everything. However, just because we can connect everything doesn’t mean it makes sound business sense. As the market matures, we’ll begin to see a weeding out of the solutions that don’t serve a true business or societal purpose. M2M vendors and service providers will focus on connecting the “things” that really matter, like utilities and smart meters, fleet management and chronic health care management solutions. For example, the Boston Scientific patient management system has a global M2M SIM, allowing patients to send information on cardiac health and other vital signs from their heart monitors to doctors from their homes.
Wearables Will Enter the Workplace
Wearables will enter the workplace in fields like workforce management, where wearable GPS solutions can provide greater safety and freedom to mobile workers through automatic data collection while also providing a means for measuring productivity. Businesses with field personnel or a mobile workforce will benefit from real-time knowledge of staff whereabouts, enhanced scheduling functions as well as complete reporting on movement throughout the day. GPS tracking of their workforce will generate comprehensive reports, automating the typically manual logging process. The collected data will simplify the mileage tracking/expense process, enable routing analysis and make it possible to evaluate and improve overall business performance.
Data Will Lead to More Integrated M2M Solutions
M2M solutions will become more refined and work as an integrated part of a business’ day-to-day support infrastructure. For example, in fleet management, companies will find non-traditional ways to incorporate fleet-tracking data into CRM and ERP systems. This integration will also allow organizations to evolve into a more complete solution provider for customers. This will be enabled by increased availability of data from other industries and more sophisticated APIs, resulting in greater efficiency and fewer compliance conflicts.