As more and more OEMs and companies are discovering the true benefits of M2M adoption, it’s clear that the coming year will see continued advancements towards an even greater connected world.  The automotive space will continue to be a major driver, as car owners have come to expect the same level of connectivity in their vehicles as what they have at home. What’s more, automotive manufacturers will continue to develop new and useful applications for drivers, such as enhanced monitoring and security features, as well as more comprehensive remote diagnostics. And, as is the case in Europe, new rules and regulations will boost M2M as a requirement for a large number of vehicles.

Another growth area is smart metering and energy sector applications, where there are already many projects underway and quite a few earmarked globally for deployment next year. Also expect to see continued broad networking deployments, as well as a growing number of M2M solutions being adopted in the health care industry. As we move into a new year, it’s good to take a look at some of the issues facing the M2M space, such as fragmentation and how best to overcome the barriers to M2M adoption.

Probably one of the most important issues facing M2M today is addressing how to have a sustainable business model to achieve M2M solutions. When we connect devices, we are enabling new technology for consumers, but more importantly we need to educate and inform customers and consumers how best to utilize this technology. As we demonstrate those successful applications already in play, we are better positioned to assist others in finding viable M2M solutions that directly impact the bottom line.

One specific area of utmost importance is how best to foster the establishment and ongoing advancement of the M2M developer community. There is a generally accepted view within the industry that previous development processes – ones based upon proprietary solutions– are unsustainable and hinder interoperability between new solutions and those already deployed in the field, while also limiting the scope of developers’ skill sets. For these reasons, Sierra Wireless has been a strong advocate of utilizing open source tools and protocols and launched a M2M Developer Program to foster greater collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst a growing community of application developers. The goal in doing so is to ensure the best and most experienced developers are available for adopters of M2M as needed.

Another issue is that there are a lot of suppliers offering many different, mixed solution sets, which further complicates the process of implementing M2M solutions. Fortunately, there is an understanding amongst key M2M players that ongoing consolidation will overcome today’s fragmentation difficulties and it will become much easier to build and deploy more streamlined M2M solutions in the near future.  

In fact, this consolidation is already taking place, but with the understanding that it will be an ongoing process taking place over a number of years. In 2014, more partnerships will be formed in order to deliver turnkey M2M solutions in key markets, which will, in turn, drive solutions down into lower tier markets that don’t have the resources to readily adopt M2M. As a company, we saw how providing customers direct access to proven solutions creates opportunity to overcome barriers and put M2M solutions into play. This led us to launch the Sierra Wireless M2M Solutions Exchange, which we expect to be further populated in the coming year.

Where consolidation is concerned, expect to see it first from companies in the number one and two market positions, either organically or by acquisition. To remain competitive, smaller players will need to find ways to provide the end-to-end solutions that M2M customers are looking to implement or they won’t survive. The upside is that ultimately the path towards M2M will become much smoother and more affordable for customers.