The unexpected places where M2M may turn up

Most unified communications are focused on the way information is shared between people, but machine-to-machine interaction could take collaboration to a whole other level

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It might be easy to dismiss machine-to-machine (M2M) technology as a niche concept suited only to highly technical businesses. But in fact, the M2M market is about to explode. Research firm Analysys Mason has predicted that the M2M arena will generate US$51 billion by 2021.

Various organizations already employ M2M, notes Stijn Schuermans, business analyst at U.K. research company Vision Mobile. “There are literally thousands of applications, from very industrial ones to consumer gadgets.”

In a previous post, we identified some of the security challenges associated with M2M. Nonetheless, it seems this technology is on its way up—and IT decision makers should watch its development closely. Schuermans points to a few examples that could inspire IT leaders to think about how M2M might impact their organizations:

Connected cars

Many vehicle manufacturers use M2M to link cars to computers, so car owners receive email messages when it’s time to have the oil changed or the air filter replaced. Insurance companies increasingly rely on vehicle sensors to track driving patterns, enabling the insurers to offer discount rates when policyholders drive safely.

Home automation

Smart home systems can be programmed to turn appliances on or off based on set “if-then” rules. Schuermans notes the popular Nest automated home thermostat as a good example. This device actually programs itself to turn on a furnace or air conditioner according to homeowners’ schedules. It needs about a week to learn those patterns and apply them for optimal home comfort.

Health and fitness

Fitbit’s One activity and sleep tracker monitors the user’s steps taken, stairs climbed and calories burned throughout the day. When connected to a smartphone or computer, it offers suggestions for sleeping better and improving fitness: take the stairs instead of the elevator; go for a short walk after lunch; find out how long you usually sleep and how often you wake up during the night.

M2M and you

These are just a few of the thousands of examples of M2M applications. IT decision makers would do well to think about ways in which their organizations might benefit from this technology. By linking machines to business processes and communications systems, companies could discover new competitive advantages and new ways to maximize their return on their unified communications investments.


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