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Reality Check: M2M to transform enterprise mobility strategies

Editor’s NoteWelcome to our weekly Reality Check column. We’ve gathered a group of visionaries and veterans in the mobile industry to give their insights into the marketplace.

Machine-to-machine communications are set to play a key role in enterprise mobility strategies. Some sectors such as utilities, oil and gas, and transport and logistics already use M2M widely as a cost-effective means to extract crucial business data from remotely located sites and systems.

Now the growing awareness of how data captured from remote devices can inform key business decisions, as well as improve productivity and customer service, is bringing M2M to the forefront for a wider range of enterprises and driving uptake. IMS Research, for example, forecasts that the market for cellular M2M connectivity services will grow to approximately 326 million connections worldwide by 2016, up from 107 million connections in 2011.

M2M has already helped companies reduce the cost of monitoring and controlling assets, optimize logistics and simplify both payment processing and regulatory compliance. Enterprise M2M will also play an important role in the ongoing shift toward the “Internet of things,” whereby sensors embedded in physical objects collect data that is analyzed and acted upon by computers or people.

Yet CIOs, who are already facing other taxing enterprise mobility issues, such as the rapid growth in employees’ application use and the bring-your-own-device trend, may understandably question the need to deploy M2M  immediately. And executives face other challenges when it comes to deploying M2M: solutions are often proprietary and operate in silos, making them relatively complex to tie into existing enterprise applications.

However, the benefits in deploying M2M solutions could be considerable. For example, the tight integration of M2M data into wider enterprise applications and databases will be important if companies are to analyze growing volumes of data usefully and deploy it to enhance existing business practices.

Defining which remote field and consumer devices can provide critical data, and integrating that data effectively with other sources of business intelligence information will be critical for successful deployment. A well-delivered M2M project requires an understanding of how systems, employees, customers, information and business processes interconnect. This can be a considerable undertaking but can also lead to the delivery of more effective enterprise mobility solutions.

What’s more, the development of cloud-based M2M solutions, the spread of 4G/LTE networks and the ongoing reduction in M2M component costs will make it easier in the future to build M2M into a comprehensive enterprise mobility strategy.

Fernando Alvarez is VP at Capgemini Mobile Solutions Practice Leader

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