Why now is the time to invest in machine-to-machine

The Vodafone M2M Adoption Barometer report (here) is an annual report which provides a robust impartial look at the Internet of Things (IoT) marketplace and how machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is transforming the way this technology is impacting on businesses and consumers now, and in the future.

The latest report, which was published in the second half of 2014, provides excellent insight from a global survey and includes insights from one of the world’s most respected M2M analysts, Matt Hatton from Machina Research who comments “It is particularly interesting to see that the idea of using M2M to get ‘greater competitive advantage’ is gaining significant currency.” One of the key ‘take home’ points from the report is that M2M is maturing. It is now increasingly being used to improve customer-facing processes, as opposed to internal processes, so delivering better, more consistent service and increasing differentiation to create a competitive edge.

A key reason IoT or M2M is receiving an increasing amount of media airtime is the benefits M2M brings as the cost of technology and communications decreases. At Vodafone we see the return-on-investment (ROI) as an important factor as to why an organisation might consider an M2M solution and this is usually very measurable. For example, we have a customer that provides animal feed machinery to farmers. Over the years across its customer base it has built up a vast amount of data which is analysed and as a result the feeders are programmed to provide the cattle with the optimum level of feed. This reduces wastage and unnecessary cost and optimises the farmers ROI in terms of milk or beef production. The data is literally communicated to the machinery in the field via the Vodafone network from their livestock feed control centre. With over 10,000 farmers across over 25 countries using this service it’s clear to see the benefits outweigh the costs. Verified results show that the feed system efficiency is improved by 10%, while milk yields increase by 1.74kg per cow per day.

Other areas where M2M is prevalent is in smart meters for domestic homes which offer benefits such as cost reduction and operating efficiencies for the energy providers such as not having teams reading meters coupled with more accurate readings to consumers saving energy as they become more in control of their energy management and aware of energy wastage. Smart cities are also currently much discussed. With governments, both national and local, focussing on the energy and resource saving aspects as well as efficiency gains and the all-important cost savings whether it be through smart street lights, more efficient refuse collection or public parking management.

In an increasingly competitive commercial environment businesses of all sizes are looking to operate efficiently and find competitive advantage. M2M certainly provides the answer in many guises. Vodafone is the world leader in M2M and one of the reasons for this is our global SIM supporting M2M capabilities and applications across the globe. By providing a global SIM that is pre-provisioned and ready to use, we can significantly reduce the cost in operating M2M solutions from billing through to ‘out of the box ‘provisioning which is an important consideration for enterprises of any size. We have many smaller but ambitious customers benefiting from the global SIM approach as they grow internationally.

Vanmoof is a Dutch firm manufacturing urban commuter bikes which is expanding internationally. Its e-bikes include GPS connectivity provided by Vodafone with SIM’s integrated into the bike frame, which allows stolen bikes to be tracked anywhere in the world. As a result Vanmoof stands out from the crowd with this novel approach which also boosts its marketing and brand credibility. “We’re a start-up, with a small marketing budget. We need to work with partners who can bring something extra.” Says Niels Bark, Sales and Marketing Manager, Vanmoof.

If there are takeouts as to how to benefit from M2M – delivering a better, more consistent service and increasing differentiation to create a competitive edge – the Barometer Report summarises these succinctly:

Take a good hard look at your own readiness for M2M. Do you have the strategy, culture and technology maturity to make it pay dividends?

Think not just about how you can use M2M within your business, but also how it can transform customer-facing processes.

Leverage the more mature horizontal applications of M2M (such as fleet management and inventory management) where possible, and use specialist providers to make sure your solutions are well integrated.

Actively pursue C-level support, and embrace the cultural and process changes as well as the technological. Consider M2M within the context of other major technology transformations, particularly big data. M2M and analytics go hand in hand.

In an increasingly competitive commercial environment businesses of all sizes are looking to operate efficiently and find competitive advantage. M2M certainly provides the answer in many guises. Vodafone is the world leader in M2M and one of the reasons for this is our global SIM supporting M2M capabilities and applications across the globe. By providing a global SIM that is pre-provisioned and ready to use, we can significantly reduce the cost in operating M2M solutions from billing through to ‘out of the box ‘provisioning which is an important consideration for enterprises of any size. We have many smaller but ambitious customers benefiting from the global SIM approach as they grow internationally.