I’ve been reading a lot about M2M/’The Internet of Things’, many pundits believe 2013 will be the year the concept finally goes mainstream – it’s been a while since its inception in the late ‘90s!
I have to say I’m among those believers, but I can see a lot of dust in the air before we get to anything that might resemble a ubiquitous eco-system for all-things-Smart. Here are a few reasons why:
- Open standards for connectivity and data interchange will take a while to agree. Having said that, I don’t think Businesses and Consumers will want to see proprietary platforms (the nightmarish vision of an ‘ITunes-for-M2M’)!
- Object Identity standards: Everyone seems to be talking about IP v6 for this purpose, very few in the ‘new wave’ of M2M seem to be aware of the Electronic Product Code(EPC) from GS1/EPCGlobal. I’ve not been close to EPC developments since 2004, but a lot of good thinking was done that tackled many of the issues yet to be resolved in the M2M world – not the least of which, delineation between the identity of the object and the identity of an object’s interface(s) – a debate that continues around the use of IPv6 for identity.
- Who will lead the M2M market? Or should it be markets? Will it be consumers leading with ‘Home & Personal’ gadgets , as Alex Hawkinson, founder/CEO of http://smartthings.com/ believes. Or could it be led by large Energy providers with their Smart Grid projects – often subsidized and encouraged by governments? Or will the Telco’s and Network equipment guys to fight back? Many telcos (mostly outside the US) have been dabbling in this space for ten years or more – I worked with BT on an early Auto ID service back in 2003. Some Telcos have continued to invest, for example; Telefonica recently announced their proprietary ‘Smart M2M’ solution and clearly have global ambitions in M2M services. Meanwhile, the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, HP, Juniper Networks, Motorola Mobility, Qualcomm, Samsung and Texas Instruments are rallying around the OneM2M movement (http://www.onem2m.org). Not to forget Cisco’s long standing ambitions in this space.
- Who will lead Enterprise-quality data integration? This would probably include correlation, aggregation and other, signal-based & enterprise app generated data. Think multi-source, data ‘mash-up’ services. This feels to me that this could be the sweet-spot for the more ‘application-and-data-as-a-service’ focused Cloud vendors. Or could be a SI or large software vendor play (SAP or Oracle spring to mind).
- Which roles will the Complex Event Processing (CEP) platform vendors adopt in the M2M eco-system? How far can we expect the likes of TIBCO, Oracle and IBM to push M2M/CEP/Big Data combinations within the Enterprise?
But despite the above challenges and battles yet to be won, I do believe we will see far greater deployment of ‘Smart’ things over the next 12-24 months than at any time since those early days of Auto-ID. My bet is that both Smart Grid and consumer-led lifestyle solutions will lead the early adopters. Don’t, however, hold your breath for pan-industry standards at anything above low-level communications protocols!