Vodafone puts faith in machines

Vodafone, the world’s biggest carrier by revenues, is ramping up its presence in the Machine to Machine (M2M) space, with the launch of a global service platform to help companies deploy and manage large, wireless M2M projects.

M2M, otherwise known as telematics, does not feature prominently in the business plan of most mobile network operators. The margins can be small, but machines massively outnumber people and, in a world of increasingly saturated markets, machine to machine communications represents a growth opportunity for carriers.

With the creation of a new team to drive the M2M platform, Vodafone said it is looking to bring scale and expertise to this fast growing market as more and more enterprises use wireless M2M, in anticipation of significant demand for M2M services on mobile networks across Europe over the coming years.

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In the future it might be that M2M helps to realise the vision long championed by industry experts and leaders alike that everything in our lives will be connected. Never mind turning the lights down low and popping on some mood music, we were told that our cars would be able to find their own way home and our fridges would be automatically ordering food from the supermarket when we started to run low. Not for the first or last time we were told that the mobile phone would become our remote control for life.

The truth of the matter when it comes to telematics, at least for now, is much more mundane: supply chain reporting, fleet management, electronic point of sales devices, remote metering for utilities, offender monitoring and security are all popular, if low key, machine to machine implementations.

But it’s a market not to be sniffed at. Globally, operator revenues for wireless M2M were €3bn in 2008, and are forecast to rise to €8.9bn in 2012, according to researcher Berg Insight.

Vodafone’s new platform will provide a single point of contact for customers to manage their M2M connectivity from early concept development to support for national and multinational deployments.

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