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M2M and IoT: 2016 predictions from Vodafone

2015 saw the Internet of Things (IoT) as a catalyst for digital transformation. With more than a quarter of all companies worldwide using Machine to Machine (M2M) technologies, as unveiled by Vodafone’s M2M Barometer, business models are being transformed and, as we embark on 2016, the future of M2M technologies looks even more promising.

M2M is becoming more pervasive, impacting everything from back-end operations to the consumer experience. We expect a surge in M2M usage in 2016, with an increased focus on creating a more cohesive ecosystem for the marketplace.

Below are my predictions for the M2M market in 2016 and beyond.

M2M strategies will evolve to drive new customer experiences

An increasing number of organisations are realising the potential of M2M communications to not only automate internal business processes, but also to drive new customer experiences.

Companies are introducing new customer-facing connected products and services, improving their existing offerings, increasing revenue and creating new revenue opportunities. This trend is evident with 66 per cent of those already using M2M stating that their strategy today focuses on external stakeholders, according to the Vodafone M2M Barometer 2015.

As the scope of M2M expands beyond internal departments, we predict more organisations will adopt M2M and extend it throughout their business, and that more than a third of businesses will describe their M2M projects as innovation focused, rather than IT.

Sophisticated M2M deployments will deliver greater ROI

Businesses are constantly looking for solutions that provide key capabilities for building next generation systems that make a greater positive impact. The convergence of M2M with other sophisticated technologies, such as cloud computing and big data analytics, will provide new business opportunities and lead to significantly greater returns.

The Vodafone M2M Barometer 2015 substantiates this with 83 per cent of the most sophisticated organisations seeing significant return, compared to 43 per cent of the least sophisticated businesses. And, 69 per cent of those most sophisticated organisations stating that M2M has "fundamentally transformed" their businesses.

With M2M and IoT gaining momentum, these integrated solutions are seen as a “must have”, and we will see vendors delivering more sophisticated deployment of the technology in 2016.

IoT will be at the centre of the customer experience

Marketers are realising the potential of IoT to enhance customer experience and engage with them in new and innovative ways. Through customer-facing connected products and services, marketers gain insight from massive amounts of data and new analytics technologies which enables them to take strategic business decisions.

Beginning next year, we expect the use of M2M and IoT to mature across all sectors. Companies across all industries will place M2M at the heart of their customer experience. For example, this year, M2M adoption in the retail sector grew an astounding 88 per cent, with retailers now understanding that M2M can strengthen the shopping experience through personalisation, smarter payment methods and digital signage - all while streamlining internal operations.

A more strategic approach to IoT

With the sudden surge in IoT, businesses jumped on the connected devices’ bandwagon without having a strategic vision or plan. Companies simply rushed to connect almost everything without evaluating the investment and potential benefits. As the market matures, we expect companies to weed out the solutions that do not make sound business sense and focus on connecting only those products or services that align with their business or societal objective.

From an M2M vendor and service provider perspective, this means the ability to understand the clients’ needs and offer the right solution to the right company, such as utilities and smart meters, heart monitors, fleet management and chronic healthcare management solutions.

Matt Key, Commercial Director, M2M at Vodafone

Image source: Shutterstock/nito