M2M/IoT Application Platforms are not a panacea, but will significantly disrupt traditional M2M platform markets

Recently, Machina Research has published extensively on the topic of M2M/IoT Application Platforms. These platforms represent, in some ways, and increasing focus on horizontal enabling components that can underpin a future Internet of Things, complemented by a flexible and powerful application development and management environment. But M2M/IoT Application Platforms are not a panacea for the travails of today¡¯s M2M world.

Firstly, these emerging M2M/IoT Application Platforms are not a one-size-fits-all affair. In all cases, anyone looking to deploy an M2M solution will look for the most cost-effective solution. In the case of M2M solutions there are usually two major cost components: the cost of the remote device and the cost of application development. The total costs of remote connected M2M devices clearly increase (almost) linearly with the number of devices deployed, whilst the costs of software development are generally more of a one-off cost, less driven by the number of M2M devices deployed supporting a particular application. These two factors must be balanced, so that ¡®large¡¯ deployments of M2M solutions will tend to use a higher proportion of bespoke software which will enable a lower cost remote hardware solution than might be possible using applications developed by M2M/IoT Application Platforms.

Secondly, it is clear that the task of an M2M/IoT Application Platform should not be limited to a technical abstraction across multiple input sources. It should also encompasses a semantic abstraction so that IoT application developers can readily interface with a wide range of M2M applications without needing to investigate the exact meanings of specific codes in specific fields of diverse data models associated with different M2M applications.

However, it is clear that M2M/IoT Application Platforms do represent a new and disruptive force that is entering the traditional M2M platform space. These existing M2M platform types will be impacted in a variety of ways. Some will be greatly impacted, whist others will be hardly impacted at all. In general:

  • Combined Connectivity Support and Service Enablement platforms: will need to focus more on Connectivity Support than Service Enablement, as M2M/IoT Application Platforms come to dominate markets for the latter.
  • Solution providers: should regard an M2M/IoT Application Platform capability as a driver of revenues in other areas of their business. Systems integrators are likely to offer M2M/IoT Application Platform services for free, so disrupting the market for others.
  • Device Management Platforms: will remain relatively unaffected by the advent of M2M/IoT Application Platforms.
  • Application Support platforms: are likely to be hit hardest by the advent of the M2M/IoT Application Platform. Really, the best way forwards for Application Support platforms will be to secure deals with the likes of ThingWorx to leverage their M2M/IoT Application Platform capabilities.

Overall, and as ever in the M2M space, it is clear that todays¡¯ market is subject to significant forces of change. We expect that 2014 will see the various players in the M2M and IoT platforms space beginning to play more to their strengths and that, as a result, de-facto strands of standardisation will become established. 2014 will be a year of productisation (and commoditisation) in the M2M and IoT platform space, but the result will be an accelerated growth rate.

For more information, please refer to Machina Research¡¯s recently published report¡°Competitive Dynamics in the M2M Platform Space¡±, published January 2014.


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