M2M APPS: What is the impact of 4G technology on the M2M market?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: Extremely limited in the near term. M2M is characterized by the criticality of coverage, device cost, in-service efficiency – especially power management – and low network usage in many applications. In other words, fundamentally different to the world of LTE. There are niche applications to which it can be applied, such as digital signage, possibly industrial replacement of leased circuits, etc. where it is feasible to both defined coverage – these are fixed locations – as well as the fact that power management and BOM costs are not driving issues, but they are small in volume. By mid-decade, I'd anticipate inter-operability, power and cost issues somewhat resolved and then we'll see an uptick.
M2M APPS: What are some of the major M2M turning points you’ve seen during your time in the industry? What do you see as the next big change to come?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: We've moved from science projects and small providers to large-scale corporations now starting to embrace the whole notion of remote asset control and data collection becoming part of enterprise thinking. In particular, we are seeing a move from simply using M2M to save money – optimization – to making money through new service invention. Fundamentally, the last 2-3 years have brought about an understanding of the ubiquity of the IP connectivity that is available, which has made delivery and integration simpler. Amazingly, this industry was stuck for too long believing proprietary systems were somehow beneficial; this has now changed. Going forward, the push is globalization of delivery and demand, and richer content, though overall needs are still low in the context of network capacity. There are very few M2M applications that are, and will, use more than 5MB or so of data capacity from networks for some time to come.
M2M APPS: What, if any, barriers are preventing M2M solutions from becoming ubiquitous in the enterprise? How do we get there?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: Education and somewhat simpler data integration processes to enterprise systems – SAP, Oracle based etc. The other reality is that the solutions are, and will remain, somewhat complex in many cases to deploy. Many require installation, special environmental considerations etc. – it’s not like shipping iPad's to consumers and them turning them on. Speaking of iPad's however I do see an increased move toward use of off-the-shelf equipment such as tablets to replace custom devices in many segments, just as we are seeing smartphone-enalbed services for payment processing replacing dedicated POS, with NFC and other technologies being integrated to ease this.
M2M APPS: We’ve recently seen a fair amount of consolidation in the market as well as many new entrants up and down the value chain. In the end, what will be the deciding factors of which companies are the winners/losers in M2M?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: Vision, execution, financial strength and the ability to evolve services to overall lower cost of deployment for enterprise customers. Without deep pockets and clear understanding of goals, it is hard to invest in the tools and systems needed to meet customer needs and sustain these. This is both for carrier entrants and independents. The tough area is for the hardware guys, especially those without critical scaling through relationships with silicon or handset channels that can leverage R&D on a broad basis.
M2M APPS: What is m2m today and what will it be tomorrow? How will m2m change your life and work?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: M2M is already pervasive – just folks don't always see it. How many drive On-Star equipped cars, or BMW or M-B vehicles with on-board systems? How many have home security systems that are remotely-monitored? The numbers are in the millions. We are now starting to use LBS (location-based services) in M2M beyond GPS – this links M2M to consumers. We also are seeing rapid expansion in medical and wellness management – diabetes, heart monitoring, sleep management – that are broadly based services. The list is just starting actually.
M2M APPS: What is your outlook on m2m developments? What are obstacles? What is needed to realize the networked society? Which killer app can you imagine?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: EVERYONE will have been touched – our homes will tell us if there is a service break or security breach, our cars will pre-book service appointments with our preferred dealerships, we will monitor body conditions so that the routine annual medical will be a real-time experience for our doctors to monitor. Ultimately, if you can measure it, and make better decisions, both personally and in business as a result of the data we gather, we will have figured ways to benefit from it.
M2M APPS: Do you believe the more optimistic forecasts of up to 50Bn devices could be connected in the world of M2M?
ALEX BRISBOURNE: It's overly optimistic and could lead to many disappointments into the future. While sensor networks could conceivably get to these levels over the next 10-15 years, the likelihood is that less than 10-15% of these may be permanently connected via live wireless connection – on a subscription basis.