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Vodafone survey reveals surging M2M adoption

Erik Brenneis heads up Vodafone's M2M division

600 executives from a broad range of industries were asked about their views on, and plans for, machine-to-machine technology and it turned out that 22 percent of them were already using it – an 80 percent increase on the proportion a year ago.

This was the second year Vodafone has published its M2M Adoption Barometer, which is commissioned by M2M Director Erik Brenneis, with the apparent aim of promoting the uptake of the technology within business and industry, as well as raising general awareness of the possibilities of embedded wireless communications functionality across a wide range of use-cases.

In the first year of the report, the leading industry in terms of M2M adoption was, somewhat unsurprisingly, automotive, where the ‘connected car’ business case has been established, if not really implemented, for some time. A year later, however, both energy and utilities and consumer electronics have surged ahead of automotive in terms of M2M adoption, as indicated in the diagram below.

The consumer electronics industry leads the way in M2M adoption

The consumer electronics industry leads the way in M2M adoption

But before we declare that the era of the networked fridge that orders your food for you using AI that knows you better than you know yourself, it seems that the utilities and CE industries are mainly using M2M to optimise internal processes rather than create new consumer products.

In fact, a major theme in the report is the transition from internal to external M2M projects. Right now, of those companies that have an M2M strategy, 41 percent of them are purely focused on internal implementations. But asked how they expect things to look in three years, that number falls to 25 percent, meaning three quarters expect to have an external M2M strategy within three years. The full report can be downloaded here.

“This year’s report leaves no doubt that momentum is accelerating as companies begin to realise the commercial potential of the Internet of Things,” said Brenneis. “This technology is transforming whole industries as companies find new ways to operate and engage with their customers. M2M is moving from the back-office to centre stage.”

Vodafone’s agenda in promoting M2M is clear, and that’s fine. With consumer money increasingly difficult for operators to get hold of, enterprise markets such as M2M are a clear opportunity for them to generate a bit more margin from their expensive networks. Internal applications seem to already be paying dividends for some companies, but the external, consumer-facing applications must prove themselves one case at a time. While it seems inevitable that will eventually happen, it will be a long process.

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