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Rise of the machines

By | 17 March 2016

It’s no secret that technology changes business models. But change is becoming the new normal. The increasing importance of data services, availability of faster networks and huge growth of smartphones are reshaping how consumers interact with businesses on an almost daily basis.

From Silicon Valley to small businesses in New Zealand, one technology that is having a big impact is machine-to-machine communications (M2M).

As its name implies, M2M is a set of technologies that allow devices and appliances to talk and interact with one another directly, and crucially without human input. Think of a retail chiller that automatically re-orders stock when it’s empty.

Not as new as you’d think

Although M2M may sound like slightly spooky science fiction – it isn’t new. In fact, it has been around for 20 years. Vodafone has become a leading global M2M specialist, according to Analysis Mason’s independent M2M carrier scorecard – scoring Vodafone highest three years in a row.

Applications include fleet and asset tracking, smart metering, industrial and home automation, and improved security. The Connected Living Report by the GSMA, predicts that commute times could be cut by more than a third by 2017, using intelligent M2M-based transport systems.

M2M isn’t just about industrial efficiency either. In healthcare it’s being used to monitor patients with chronic illnesses, meaning they can receive hospital-grade observation while at home. This is good news for patients and for healthcare providers. Remote monitoring is predicted to save the world’s healthcare systems $36 billion by 2018, according to Juniper Research.

A five year horizon

The next five years are likely to see a rapid acceleration in the adoption of M2M technologies. Vodafone’s global M2M Adoption Barometer found that 78% of enterprise executives expect M2M to be at the core of successful businesses in the future. Over half expect to have live M2M initiatives within the next two years.

Vodafone New Zealand’s Enterprise Director, Ken Tunnicliffe says many business customers are embracing M2M, and recognise the value that it can bring to their organisation.

We now have over one million M2M connections in NZ alone – and this number is rapidly rising. Our M2M platform is used for services from electronic road tolling, to refrigerator monitoring, to security services and electricity metering. Businesses of all shapes and sizes can reduce complexity, cost and expand internationally, by using M2M.

Global coverage

Vodafone can offer a global M2M platform that removes the complexity for businesses expanding internationally. “We can offer businesses the potential to connect to over 580 mobile networks around the world.” Says Tunnicliffe.

The global SIM can significantly reduce the complexity of developing international M2M applications. It can mean you only have one tariff and one M2M supplier to manage.

M2M to the world with International Telematics

Kiwi company International Telematics is using M2M technology to provide asset location monitoring and security, driver behaviour reports and environmental impact assessments in the logistics industry.

Vodafone currently provides M2M services for International Telematics across Australia and North America. And as the company expands globally, other countries are readily available to them as well.

Global CEO of International Telematics, Guy Colglazier, says Vodafone’s network helps remove the traditional barriers for expansion offshore. “With Vodafone’s global M2M platform, we can ship our product straight from our warehouse and know that whether the box is opened in Adelaide or Albuquerque, it’s going to work in the same way without any adjustments,” he says.

Tunnicliffe says the applications of M2M are varied and can be applied to businesses – both large and small, across all industries. He believes it will have a dramatic impact on everything from city planning and emergency services, to healthcare, military and many more environments.

“We focus on delivering simple M2M solutions, for any sized business. Whether it’s increased efficiency, cost reduction, or improved customer satisfaction, Vodafone’s M2M technology can help you stay ahead of the game. Businesses that adopt M2M are blazing a trail that others will inevitably follow. So the question really is: are you ready to lead?”