What's going to happen in M2M over the coming year? Here are some of Matt Hatton's (www.machinaresearch.com) predictions.
Operator alliances will expand and their roles become clearer
The most prominent currently are Vodafone with its Partner markets, and two groupings that emerged during 2012: the Global M2M Association (Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telia Sonera) and the grouping around the Jasper Wireless platform (including NTT DOCOMO and Telefonica), the “J-7”. During 2013 we expect a lot more operators will join these emerging alliances and that the roles of these organisations will become a lot more apparent, e.g. with joint bidding, IMSI-swapping (see below), and SLAs.
Data analytics will seize the M2M agenda
Relevant to M2M and also to the wider telecoms market is data analytics, or so-called “big data”. During 2012 there were a few tentative moves in this direction such as Telefonica’s Dynamic Insights business unit, but 2013 will see many of the issues crystallise. Machina Research believes that a huge amount of the value of the M2M market lies in the analysis and manipulation of the data generated by diverse sources.
Programmable SIMs/eUICC will start to take off
One area where standards are important and should be finalised in 2013 is eUICC (embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Card). There is a lot of interest in remote SIM management for M2M and we expect pre-standardisation commercial deployments in 2013. Several issues need to be resolved to see full-scale inter-operator IMSI (international mobile subscriber identity) swapping, not least the 'subscription manager' role. During the course of 2013 there will naturally also be a lot of discussion around how the concept of reprogrammable SIMs might affect the wider industry (i.e. handsets and mobile broadband).
Modules will become more fit-for-purpose
Machina Research believes that the cellular M2M module value chain is not delivering devices optimised for M2M. Effectively the industry is getting over-engineered products appropriate for smartphones or high-spec M2M devices. During 2013 we expect to see a lot more fit-for-purpose M2M devices, driven by two factors: greater volumes of devices and an underwriting of device volumes by MNOs. This will help to drive down the costs of deploying cellular M2M.
We will also see an increasing number of M2M devices fitted directly with M2M-oriented chipsets, rather than using a dedicated module.
Module vendors will start to compete with MNOs
The M2M module market is becoming more competitive, pushing module OEMs to find new ways to differentiate and compete other than simply cost. During the last year or two we have seen all of the major module vendors (Cinterion/Gemalto, Sierra Wireless and Telit) launch cloud-based device management platforms, with a view to providing end-to-end services for potential users of M2M services. They are in a very good position to provide simple one-stop-shop for devices and connectivity, particularly for smaller contracts. However, it is dangerous for vendors to overstep the mark and start competing directly with their MNO customers.
More focus on delivery and profitability (and verticals)
During 2012 there was a significant ramp-up in M2M business done by mobile network operators. In some cases there was an approach of ‘win the deal and hang the expense’. In looking to gain scale some MNOs accepted low, or non-existent, margins on new business. The key to M2M success is efficiency and MNOs will shift their approach to drive out that inefficiency implicit in the win-at-all-costs model. During 2013 MNOs will adopt a more mature approach, focusing on winning business that is profitable and ensuring that solutions work properly and are profitable.
Usage-based insurance will take off, particularly in Europe
Usage based insurance is a market that has flattered to deceive. It is the perennial ‘next big thing’ of M2M. Machina Research’s view is that all is set for a substantial growth in this sector in 2013. In particular, growth in the EU will be stimulated by the European Court of Justice ruling that insurers will no longer be able to take the sex of the applicant into account when setting premiums. Many MNOs are focusing specific attention on this area. Telefonica, for instance, announced an agreement with Generali Seguros in November 2012 to develop a solution. It is not just in Europe that momentum is growing. In the US Allstate and Liberty Mutual now have UBI products, while Ford and State Farm have recently expanded their Drive Safe & Save UBI model based on connectivity from Ford SYNC.
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