VDC’s CEO Mitch Solomon is participating in M2M World Congress (one of the industry’s larger M2M-centric conferences) this week in London, and sent in the following post from the field.
First off, the event is oversold and is standing room only, a testament to building interest in M2M (…and perhaps the strong promotional efforts of its producer). The day consisted of roughly a dozen presentations and panels, covering a broad landscape of topics. Speakers were largely from major wireless carriers, primarily European. Below are a few key insights (…derived from a much longer list), just hours after the last session of the day:
All speakers believe the much-anticipated M2M future has arrived, and they see rapid scaling in their business (as measured by M2M SIM card sales and deployments). Most M2M business leaders within large mobile network operators are carrying aggressive growth targets (handed down from corporate), as their companies look to M2M to drive growth that far exceeds what can be achieved in their established voice and data businesses.
The words “complexity” and “challenges” were used almost as much as “the” and “it” during the course of the day. The difficulties associated with actual M2M deployments were widely acknowledged, often in the same breath as the notion of how large the opportunity is. Clever solutions to the biggest M2M deployment challenges were elusive (understandably, as silver bullets are usually are hard to come by), though familiar suggestions like “test, test, and re-test” and “standards can help” and “pilot first, then expand” were offered up.
The only word used more than “complexity” and “challenges” was…”partner.” Which makes sense. It often takes partnerships to solve complex technical problems such as M2M applications. Every carrier was touting its partnerships, some of which extend geographic coverage while others deliver value-added software and services beyond connectivity. This is the age of M2M promiscuity, as everyone tries to seduce everyone else lest someone be left on the dance floor alone.
For a myriad of reasons, the discussions were largely focused on technology and vendor strategies (particularly carriers’) instead of OEM use cases and customer benefits (…something many audience members were a bit frustrated by). Some attempts by panel members to address questions related to devices and OEM use cases were made, and some light was shed. Overall, however a clear impression was made that senior people with M2M on their business cards are still working their own way up the learning curve (like many others in the industry) when it comes to specific examples of how M2M-based applications can benefit their OEM customers. This knowledge gap could be indicative of carriers and/or senior leaders at carriers being one or two steps removed from OEMs’ application development efforts, rather than a deficiency in an expected area of expertise.
With the second and final day of the event tomorrow, my hope is that panel members will share more about how OEMs are approaching, evaluating, designing, and deploying M2M based systems. Discussions of the supporting business cases would be particularly valuable. If so, it will cap off a very worthwhile two days of M2M immersion in London.