M2M is huge, and power everything from point-of-sale machines and ER devices to much of the Big Data revolution. But all that is in danger, says John Horn of RACO Wireless, if we don’t patch two major holes.
Complexity is a profit killer
M2M solutions must be made to be easier to deploy. We’re talking days or weeks here – even hours. Not years. Solution providers need the ability to get thousands of M2M devices up and running at once, crucially, using existing, standardized technology. They need the ability to customize rate plans and to see in real-time how their customers are actually using their applications. This is possible. More to the point, enterprises that get their M2M applications up and running quickly are seeing amazing returns. No longer do enterprises have to sit on the sidelines and wait as the process unrolls while they continue running their business with the same deficiencies that their solution is intended to improve. Typically, there is up to a 40 percent return on their investment in the first year alone.
But every time there’s a problem with that M2M application or the enterprise IT department has to focus on something like making the wireless connection work, that ROI is reduced. And at some point, if deploying a M2M application distracts from a company’s core business rather than enhancing it, then the ROI is no longer worth the effort.
Sunsetting 2G could slow some M2M applications
Unfortunately, simplicity isn’t the only thing holding back the growth of M2M right now. In fact, the very future of some M2M applications is being challenged, thanks to the mobile industry’s migration to 3G and 4G networks. In the process many are simply shutting down their existing 2G networks, stranding customers who have M2M applications that rely on them. There is one story of a small boutique in the Midwest that relied on a 2G network to process credit-card payments. Without notice, its 2G cellular service was shut off and suddenly the shop’s point of sale device was non-functional, leaving a vulnerable small business scrambling to find options.
Complicating matters is that many M2M applications simply don’t use enough data to justify updating or transitioning them to wider pipes and the more costly devices associated with 3G and 4G networks. So, while in many cases it may be an option to upgrade to a significantly more expensive 3G or 4G compatible device, the low levels of data consumption required by these applications would not come close to justifying it, and so unnecessarily put a hit on a businesses ROI.
These shifts force customers to be very strategic in how they plan their M2M strategy. As some carriers are forced to move away from 2G networks because of spectrum constraints or other long-term strategies, there are other carriers that remain committed to supporting their 2G networks. The bottom line is that for M2M to reach its full potential, application providers need easy-to-implement M2M solutions. And they also need some assurance that their M2M solutions will still be supported in the future as networks continue to evolve. If you give enterprises and potential M2M application developers these two things, M2M will reach its full potential.