Wireless connectivity has redefined what is possible to connect and businesses across all industry sectors are capitalising on the ability to automatically communicate data from one machine to another using wireless Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, a key enabler of the 'Internet of Things' (IoT).

Presently, 428 mobile operators across 187 countries offer M2M services[1] to meet growing global demand for mobility, security and reliability, and ultimately secure a competitive advantage through the real time management of remote assets such as: utility metres; ATM machines; medical devices; security cameras and power systems.

Surging demand has triggered a global market transition towards mass commercial deployment with the M2M module market reaching a total of $1.4 billion in 2013, up 6% from the previous year[2]. The market for 'Internet of Things' (IoT) solutions forecast to grow from around $1.9 trillion today to $7.1 trillion in 2020[3].

In a smart world, any device that is not networked will decrease in value. Companies of all sizes are therefore taking steps to capture the opportunities presented by wireless M2M with 18% of smaller organisations having adopted M2M, up from 12% last year, according to the Vodafone M2M Adoption Barometer, 2014.

Return on investment (ROI) expectations are high with 66% of companies seeing a return within a year, and 89% within two years; and most organisations that have deployed M2M are also undergoing a shift from an internal to an external focus with 75% saying they will have a strategy to implement M2M for external-facing projects over the next three years.[4]

2G M2M modules comprised the majority of units shipped in 2013, but connectivity needs are changing in line with the evolving technological landscape and a transformation in the types of devices and applications that comprise M2M/IoT.

Factors such as the need for higher bandwidth and lower latency in areas such as digital signage, healthcare and security, combined with a gradual decommissioning of 2G networks is driving a migration from 2G to 4G / LTE (Fourth Generation - Long Term Evolution).

While 3G is forecast to grow to 67% of mobile M2M module revenue by 2018, 4G / LTE represents the fastest-growing technology segment with a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 144% between 2013-2018[5].

With the GSA forecasting over 350 LTE networks by the end of 2014, wireless connectivity will play an even greater role in M2M / IoT and we can expect to see significant transformations occurring across virtually every industry sector worldwide.

[1] GSMA. From concept to delivery: the M2M market today report, 2014.
[2] Infonetics Research. Mobile M2M Modules report, 2014.
[3] International Data Corporation (IDC) report: Worldwide and Regional Internet of Things (IoT) 2014-2020 Forecast: A Virtuous Circle of Proven Value and Demand.
[4] The M2M Adoption Barometer 2014, Vodafone.
[5] Infonetics Research. Mobile M2M Modules report, 2014.