Monday, November 23, 2009

Analysts At Dawn – Challenges Facing M2M

Fragmentation, the development of the mass market and standards were key issues raised by the panel, Robin Duke Woolley, Emil Berthelsen and Dave Birch at the Analyst Dawn Briefing held at the M2M Business Exchange in Brussels.

Robin Duke Woolley, founder and CEO of Beecham Research, identified the fragmented nature of the M2M market as being a key issue. He stated. “What’s different about M2M is that it is very fragmented. Due to the broad range of applications there is a broad range of different technologies that can be used to find solutions in the M2M space. So, what tends to happen is that suppliers focus on technology areas that they are familiar with and therefore they only see a very small part of the overall picture.

“Cellular operators and hardware suppliers operate in one part of the market, the Ethernet and broadband suppliers operate in a different part, as do ZigBee, Bluetooth and RFID providers. However, when you put them all together it is quite a substantial area of activity. Add to that the end user and what he is using this stuff for and it is a very significant market.”

That significant market is growing apace and Dave Birch, director of Consult Hyperion, commented, “What is interesting at the moment is the emergence of a mass market and I believe there are four characteristics of a mass market. It has to be accessible, automatic, authorised and authentic. All of those four factors have to be in place.”

Of the four he identified authorisation as being, “the real problem and that is where there are some cracks in the foundations.” He continued, “There is danger that some of the basic security standards don’t get added on until afterwards.”

“Also, I think that how devices search and whether they are allowed to talk to each other is problematical. We know about the problem of authenticity. We understand how to put signatures etc and we tend to focus on the easy things but have probably put off some of the more difficult issues for too long and need to be tackling them.”

Robin Duke Woolley raised the issue of standards saying, “One of the problems with standards in the M2M space isn’t helped by the fact that there are so many different sectors and so many different devices involved in the market, each within a different industrial sector.” He added, “Attempts to achieve interoperability across industry sectors have not moved very far.”

Berthelsen, manager at Analysys Mason observed, “There is an analogy between mobile applications enterprises and M2M. In mobile enterprises one of the focus areas was creating a platform onto which the applications could be launched with the remote devices. The important element here is the ability of the middleware platform to allow people to link to any device across any network at any time. And that is pretty much an ideal scenario that needs to be transferred to the M2M sector.”
During the session there was only time to touch briefly on key issues, so Berthelsen posed the question, “The M2M market in Europe may be growing by 25 to 30 percent per annum but how do we support the market and help it evolve in the coming years?”

Richard Mumford

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