Vodafone survey finds small companies joining the M2M party

Vodafone regards itself as the leading veteran player in M2M globally, and doesn't mind being categorised as such. According to its Head of M2M, Erik Brennels, it follows a 'top-down' approach and to now has found most of its success amongst the big 'verticals'.

It's just completed 'The M2M adoption barometer 2013' report. So how do its current and potential customers for M2M see the market evolving?

The current hype wave on M2M and the 'Internet of Things' is supported by Vodafone's customer base's intentions. Half of all companies now have a settled intention to adopt and 78 per cent of all its respondents expect M2M to play a "crucial" role in business success, which indicates many expect they will adopt eventually.

The biggest surprise for Vodafone in the survey results was a greater than anticipated potential pick-up by smaller companies. The big ones in the established sectors - utilities, automotive, transport and logistics, fleet and asset management, manufacturing and (at 10 per cent, but growing) connected consumer technology - were mostly bullish about the importance of the technology, but small companies are now keen to come to the party too.

"We see small company adoption accelerating and set to overtake large companies in terms of growth," says Erik. "The survey indicates 40 to 50 per cent growth there in terms of connections."

Obviously, being a mobile specialist (although that's changing slightly with the acquisition of Cable & Wireless Worldwide and - perhaps - Kabel Deutschland), Erik indicates that the Vodafone approach is likely to based on cellular devices and the SIM. Other networks and access techniques will arise, he thinks, but the core of the market for the foreseeable future for Vodafone, will continue to be cellular if only because the networks already exist and provide global coverage (very important for the larger applications).

But won't the requirement of ever-lower cost of connection favour new network technologies, in particular approaches like low-powered white space radio? After all, if billions of devices are going to be connected you're going to need new radio networks to cope.

"The cost of mobile cellular modules - even eventually 4G modules - are continuing to come down rapidly. We think cell will remain at the core of M2M," claims Erik. "Other technologies, such as WiFi, will form a mesh in particular circumstances and then offer the data in aggregated form back to the cell network."

The full report - compiled by Circle Research from a survey of 327 executives selected globally and involved in setting M2M strategy for their organisations is freely available for download at http://m2m.vodafone.com/barometer2013.

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