M2M in the Fabric of Business Life

Andrew Morawski, Head of M2M for the Americas, Vodafone
Andrew Morawski, Head of M2M for the Americas, Vodafone

Andrew Morawski, Head of M2M for the Americas, Vodafone

While there are various definitions and terminologies to describe the connected ecosystem–M2M, Internet of Things, IoT–one thing is clear: it can be instrumental in breaking down silos and create an interconnected business. As this becomes more evident to organizations around the world, the question is not whether to adopt machine-to-machine (M2M) technologies, but how best to use them to drive business forward.

Vodafone recently published its third annual Vodafone M2M Barometer Report, which revealed continued strong growth in the use of the technologies, networks and services that connect a wide variety of smart devices–from household products and cars to industrial applications–to the Internet of Things. The study found that more than a quarter of all businesses worldwide now use M2M technologies to enhance productivity, a 23 percent increase year on year. However, it’s about more than just adoption– organizations are implementing far more sophisticated strategies leading to increased ROI across multiple industries.

While the Internet of Things remains popular in applications like the connected car and wearable, new industries are now realizing how M2M technology can help them compete in today’s digital economy. For example, the retail sector saw the fastest growth in rates of adoption–up 88 percent year on year, due to retailers’ enthusiastic adoption of solutions like in-store digital signage, smart payment systems and supply chain optimization. The healthcare sector saw an increase of 47 percent, where M2M is used for applications such as remote patient monitoring and patient record systems. If this trend continues, the Internet of Things will soon touch every aspect of our lives.

M2M Is Proving Its Worth

As M2M spreads across business units and processes, organizations are experiencing better ROI than ever before such as measurable cost savings, and, ultimately, a significant level of organizational transformation. In fact, 59 percent of early adopters reported a significant return on their investment in M2M. And in the Americas, which leads in the adoption of consumer connected devices, companies saw the fastest return on investment, with 41 percent reporting ROI within six months. M2M deployments are even driving business leaders as 83 percent of M2M adopters worldwide feel that they gained a competitive advantage since implementation.

While these numbers may tempt businesses to jump into M2M with a ‘quick win’ approach, it’s the companies that commit to a more sophisticated, business-wide strategy that will see transformation and gain a competitive advantage in the long run.

Sophistication Leads to Success When Implementing M2M

What really sets leaders apart is a holistic strategy, including other technologies that make the most of a deployment. Businesses must leverage big data analytics to extract insights from the massive amount data generated by M2M, along with cloud and mobile solutions. This sophisticated approach to M2M helps organizations to see the greatest impact on their businesses. In fact, 69 percent of sophisticated users say M2M has fundamentally transformed their business.

To turn the technology into a true strategic asset, here are a few tips to keep in mind while implementing M2M:

• Make a strategic, multi-year commitment to M2M. While you’re likely to see fast returns even from initial small projects, changes to processes and behaviours don’t necessarily happen overnight. Plan to become a “digital business”, with M2M a part of your company-wide DNA.

• Be ambitious, creative, even daring. It may seem simpler to look at off-the-shelf solutions, isolated back-office processes or small-scale rollouts. But, the big wins come from taking a broad look at processes, markets, products and systems, and thinking about how they cannot only be automated or refined, but radically transformed, replaced or joined up.

• Collaborate and share. Silos of processes and systems are the enemy of innovation. Data gathered from M2M technology can help business units across the board from marketing and R&D to HR and finance. Don’t miss out on any of the insights that can be gleaned from analytics–this is where M2M can become even more strategic and vital to the business.

• Plan for the future. Think about what happens, both in terms of technology and processes, when an M2M project gets rolled out internationally. What happens if your data volumes explode in a few years, or if your network provider switches off its 3G network? Once M2M is embedded into business processes, you can’t afford to treat it as a short-term experiment.

It’s clear that the Internet of Things is a driving force for innovation in our cities, homes, cars and workplaces, and its potential is being recognized by business leaders in every industry. In the coming years, adoption of M2M will continue to rise as it becomes more vital to businesses worldwide. Forward-thinking organizations know that to take advantage of this transformative technology, the right approach is one that is measured, strategic, collaborative and implemented business-wide. With this approach, the Internet of Things will soon connect our lives and businesses like never before.

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