Operators emerging as match-makers for the M2M industry
Wind back ten years or so and M2M was an area of the communications market inhabited by specialists in a given field bringing enormous specialist, but usually bespoke, expertise to the table. Of course the global operators also played their role but human subscribers definitely took precedence over non-human ones. Back to the present and M2M has become a community. Many of the same companies are there but these companies are now connected by a common vision, and the operators are now playing an important role in bringing them together.
What is striking about Vodafone’s M2M website, for example, is the number of players the operator has across multiple areas of expertise. Vodafone allows you to look for partners by sector (Automotive, Consumer electronics Consumer Goods Energy and Utilites, Financial Services, Health, Manufacturing, Public Sector, Security, Transport and Logistics) or by value chain proposition (Hardware, Software, Systems Integrator, Communications Provider).
The area which is newest and has been talked about least, perhaps, is systems integration. Accenture, Atos, Device Insight, IBM, Logica and Oracle, a veritable who’s who of the systems integration community all feature on Vodafone’s partner list. This illustrates two things. The first is the importance of servers, operating systems databases and middleware as supporting infrastructure for the M2M industry. The second is that the M2M industry is complicated; otherwise it would not need the expertise of these players to function right. Oh and there is another- they must all see dollar signs otherwise they would not bother to get involved in M2M in the first place.
The pattern of partnerships forming also acts as a barometer for M2M and its sub-sectors. US operator Verizon, for example, is welcoming a growing number of mHealth companies to its partner program, such as Carematix, Zipit Wireless and VGo Communications. All of these companies have set out to accelerate the delivery of the specific market vertical within M2M that is mHealth, where the US (and therefore US operators to some extent) leads the field.