After many, many years of waiting for scale deployments and increasing adoption of IoT applications within the industry overall, we now have major adoption and increasing innovation. And many companies have aggressive plans for IoT applications. Major tech developments drive scalability.
For the past 10 years, machine-to-machine (M2M) appeared to be a slow-moving technology trend looking for a market and scale. Track & Trace was one of the most common M2M applications for shipping companies, but it seemed to be available only for the very largest shipping firms. It wasn’t the only application, but it just seemed that the M2M market was developing slowly with many different ecosystem partners predicting volume that never seemed to come.
There were many early pioneers in M2M who started to develop solutions and to plow ahead with early technology and systems that were not very flexible. Mobile operators also were not very flexible with their mobile data offers and didn’t want to break too far away from their traditional voice and data mobile plans.
Fast forward to 2015 and M2M has been replaced by the Internet of Things (IoT) by most ecosystem players including the global mobile operators. There are also many different platforms now that support IoT applications, and all the major mobile operators now have aggressive plans for IoT applications.
There have been some major developments over the past few years that really drove the IoT market to finally scale. These major developments have been catalysts for IoT growth and its growth into more and more enterprise applications and environments.
IoT-enabling tech developments
Mobile/cellular data pricing. One of the biggest changes in the past few years has been the major operators’ shift to more flexible, aggregate data plans that are more aligned with the IoT applications and use cases. The traditional mobile pricing plans did not allow the business case to work for most applications, which kept most solutions limited to a few large customers and the very high end of certain vertical markets.
More agile development / flexible IoT platforms. In the past, the M2M / IoT platforms were very rigid and slow. Major development efforts that required months and months of planning with very little flexibility and demanded long project cycles also limited its growth and use by most enterprise customers.
The new IoT platforms include the move to agile software development as well as the move to more cloud-based services that can turn up services faster and allow multitenancy. More and more M2M / IoT platform providers are now also able to quickly design, build and test applications within days and turn up production environments within a month. Cloud-based services are included in more agile and flexible IoT platforms.
Device improvements. Devices have been enhanced, expanded beyond simple devices and added communications options that make constant communications much easier to guarantee and maintain connectivity. This also includes the increasing intelligence and data collection capabilities that encourages more innovative use cases and reducing the requirements of the host resources for many applications. There have been some cost improvements, but the broader capabilities and increased functionality have been more impactful to scalable deployments.
Data analytics. Within all IT environments, data analytics has been one of the major trends, but it has been increasingly important to many large IoT deployments and applications. Analytics technologies allow customers to get more information and eventually intelligence about IoT investments that help validate the business case and benefits for business-critical solutions.
These factors have created the perfect storm of major IoT adoption, increasing innovation in solving critical business issues. The result is increasing automation within many major verticals beyond shipping, which enables all enterprise segments (and not just the Fortune 100) to take advantage of technology.
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Mike Sapien is principal analyst at Ovum. He is part of Ovum’s global enterprise practice covering global providers, ICT services and enterprise trends. Mike focuses on the Americas and global enterprise requirements. His coverage and domain knowledge includes WAN, managed and advanced voice/data/cloud services to address global MNCs, large enterprises and SMBs. His focus areas include data center services, emerging cloud and SDN-based services, enterprise mobility including MVNO, M2M/IoT, market launch and enterprise channel programs.