1. Hardware that is smaller in size and less expensive
Would you pay $100 to integrate a piece of furniture into your Smart Home by means of a box the size of a packet of cigarettes? Probably not. But if the box was only an inconspicuous device the size of a button and cost just a few dollars your answer might be different. The hardware and the sensor technology that is key for M2M/IoT solutions are shrinking in size and becoming less and less expensive, and each step in their evolution makes innovative new applications possible. Until a few years ago GPS trackers, for example, were bigger than a cigarette packet; they now fit with ease onto a keyring.
2. Increasing choice of products for consumers
Falling prices are one of the reasons why consumers are increasingly showing an interest in connected devices. Wearables like data glasses or smart watches were the focus of much attention and debate at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In the healthcare and fitness sector alone, the market researchers at ABI Research expect around 170 million of these connected companions to be on the market in 2017. In 2011 there were only around 21 million.
Smart Home solutions that connect fire alarms, central heating thermostats, and other household devices are also gaining in popularity. Unlike enterprise applications, their primary purpose does not need to be to reduce costs and to simplify processes. They can simply offer a greater degree of comfort or entertainment value. The crucial factor will be whether the industry can reach agreement on a common language for these devices. Only then will individual smart devices from different manufacturers join forces to create a Smart Home.
3. Process automation is becoming a competitive advantage
Once things are connected, new opportunities to automate processes open up step by step. Freight containers are a case in point. Cargo monitoring solutions record the position of containers and the condition of the goods they contain. If a food shipment’s cold chain is interrupted, the container alerts the sender by text message or e-mail. Time is then available to save the perishable cargo. In future, solutions of this kind will be interlocked even more effectively with corporate processes. Once the recipient opens the container, the sender’s system for instance will be able to write the invoice automatically and e-mail it to the recipient.
4. Machine learning and Big Data generate new corporate knowledge
Today, companies can use data mining methods to evaluate their machine data in real time and thereby gain useful information. Performance data and wear and tear of individual wind turbine components can be monitored, for example. On the basis of this data, machine learning algorithms can forecast precisely when the service technicians will need to replace parts and carry out maintenance work. Another example is the evaluation of data from connected vending machines. This reveals when and where customers opt for which products. On the basis of this data companies can fill their machines more specifically, for instance.
Connect existing information silos and Big Data methods will enable you to gain entirely new findings. Machine data can be connected with, say, information from the Internet. Analyze customer feedback in social media channels and operating data for the product and you will acquire information that can be fed into ongoing product development.
5. Cooperation as the recipe for success
Many IoT and M2M solutions can only be implemented by means of cross-industry partnerships. Hardware and software development require in-depth, industry-specific knowledge. For cargo monitoring it must be clear which environmental parameters are relevant and how robust the devices need to be. In the automotive market, developers must understanding the existing interfaces. To bring together specialized providers of industry-specific M2M solutions and customers around the world, IT and telecommunications service providers like Deutsche Telekom have launched partner programs. Carriers are also forming alliances such as the Global M2M Association (GMA) to support customers who are active internationally with high-quality, seamlessly available M2M services.