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M2M – The Rise of the Machines
Stuart Rowe, Aberdeen Group, Research Associate Communications, IT Infrastructure
MAR 13, 2013 11:48 AM
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An emerging trend –  dubbed “the Internet of Things” — is the growing prevelance of interconnected devices in our lives. These connected devices range from “smart” refrigerators to intelligent production machines in factories and warehouses. Each of these devices is collecting and sending data back to a central collection point specific to their business role —whether it is the system running the manufacturing plant, or the “smart” home core computer.

As more data is collected, data analytics processes can be applied, resulting in the refrigerator compiling a grocery list from items previously consumed, or the automatic delivery of a replacement part to the manufacturing plant for the one pending expiration.

While these scenarios may seem to belong in the realm of science fiction, they are already a reality. Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, the communication of devices with each other without human interaction, is emerging as a major factor across many aspects of daily life. We are at the early stages of the M2M evolution, in which industry standards and core technologies have improved to the point where M2M communications is viable. While M2M communications is already generating mountains of data, we have yet to fully realize the value that this data can provide.

The impact of the M2M infrastructure on people and companies must also be considered. In Aberdeen’s 2011 and 2012 Big Data surveys, respondents were asked to rate the relative importance of the role that M2M data has in their Big Data initiatives. The study found that when companies had smaller data repositories – identified as less than 25 Terabytes (TB) – the role of M2M data was much less important than is for enterprises with data repositories of over 25 TB (Figure 1).

Figure 1: M2M Data Importance

 Source: Aberdeen Group, December 2011 & October 2012

With the billions of “smart” devices that will be connected in ther not-too-distant future, M2M is on an explosive growth path that will generate huge amounts of data. One can readily draw a connection between this evolution and the need to apply Analytics to derive benefit from Big Data.  While M2M will provide the essential connections and generate the raw data from the connected environment, it is the job of Analytics to produce insight and business value from the mountain of raw material that is Big Data.

Simply connecting devices, appliances and machines won’t be enough. M2M will thread its tendrils into countless facets of business processes as it grows. Analytics and BI, dashboards (mobile and otherwise), central repositories for data, industry-standard protocols, and trained staff are all on the horizon for those on the path to M2M evolution. M2M is here, and it is here to stay.

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