Thursday, 5 December 2013

LTE to massively shake up the M2M market

Earlier this week Machina Research published a new report on the M2M modules space. The most significant development over the next few years is the impact of LTE. With operators in the US and parts of Asia already committing to move to LTE the writing is on the wall (eventually) for 2G/3G technologies. Ultimately this shift in LTE will permit LTE-only devices which should be relatively cheap. Furthermore, the bandwidth demand of many key sectors, most notably auto, naturally gives LTE a big foot up.

If you want to know more, take a look at our press release, which also has a link to the report.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Big data analytics and the impact on M2M - lots from Machina Research

In the last few weeks we've put out a whole lot of comment about so-called 'Big Data' and the impact on M2M/IoT. At its heart M2M is about using data to do something useful. So really the two concepts are inextricably linked. Rather than wax lyrical about the subject again, I'll point you towards a top new report entitled Creating value from data analytics in M2M: the Big Data opportunity that we published last week. Loads of invaluable stuff in there. We also published an Industry Voices column with Fierce Wireless so I'd also encourage you to go take a look at that. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Wyless buys TM Data Brazil - I spy a land grab to avoid M2M permanent roaming problems

Good news for M2M service provider Wyless as it tied up a deal to acquire TM Data in Brazil (new name: Wyless TM Data Brazil). News story here. Brazil is the new hot favourite in the M2M world. The big challenge is around permanent roaming and whether you can or can't do it, and if not, what do you do about it. The consensus seems to be that you need local on-the-ground presence to guarantee your connections in this important market. At Machina Research we published a Research Note on exactly this topic last month when Vodafone announced a partnership with Datora.

One small piece of advice though: the permanent roaming issue isn't as cut and dried as everyone seems to think. We have some ongoing discussions with Anatel, the Brazilian regulator, to get to the bottom of this. We have a Portuguese-speaking analyst who used to work in Brazil on the team. And it's certainly not as simple as "you can't do permanent roaming". Several players seem to have taken the decision that the whole rigmarole is more trouble than it's worth and decided to get themselves a Brazilian presence. That certainly solves the problem and there could be more to follow.

If anyone wants to know more about this permanent roaming issue, and specifically about Brazil, I recommend you get in touch.

On another note, Wyless is now a little more attractively positioned to be an acquisition target, possibly for an MNO that has pretensions at being a global M2M provider. 2014 is shaping up to be an interesting one for M&A.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

New platform wins for Ericsson and Jasper, but don't confuse outsourcing platforms with having an M2M strategy

There were a couple of significant wins in the M2M comms platform space last week. Jasper announced it had secured Claro Argentina (it's already firmly embedded with the wider America Movil group), while more prominently Orange decided to implement the Ericsson DCP platform.

There have been a lot of these announcements in the last few years. The reasons are obvious. Operators need to deliver M2M as efficiently as possible and purpose-built platforms can help achieve that. In particular helping smaller operators keep pace in features. There is also the lure of being able to tap into real or imagined communities of operators.

I have a small issue with this land-grab of support platforms. It seems that operators, particularly small operators, seem to be confusing taking a cloud platform with having an M2M strategy. These things are not magic wands that will suddenly result in the buyer securing a huge M2M windfall. They are a enablers. But they are only part of the solution.

That's not to criticise these deals specifically. Orange in particular has recognised that a third party platform is simply a tool to achieve a goal. At Machina Research we'll be publishing more on this at a later date.

Operators need a much more multi-faceted approach to securing M2M. We at Machina Research publish a report on operator best practice every year, the M2M CSP Benchmarking Report where we examine some of the different features required for success in M2M. And we've also recently been doing an interesting line in supporting smaller operators on how to succeed in M2M. Drop me an email if you want to know more.

The other thing to note is that the platforms space is getting more complex. As we explore in our latest white paper "M2M platforms are re-cast for the age of the ‘Internet of Things’" the whole environment is evolving very rapidly and the connectivity support element is just one small piece. With regard to the connectivity support element specifically, operators seem to be starting to diversify their approaches. Telefonica, for instance recently launched its own in-house Smart M2M platform in addition to using the Jasper Wireless platform and other legacy systems.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

New White Paper from Machina Research on M2M/IoT application platforms

It's been quite a while since I last posted. Just a little too busy with things at Machina Research!

I thought I'd break the radio silence to steer you in the direction of a new White Paper we put out yesterday entitled "M2M platforms are re-cast for the age of the ‘Internet of Things’".

The fundamental issue is that M2M has been too verticalised, with tailored solutions for each and every problem. There are horizontal platforms, but these typically deal just with connectivity. That does help speed up deployments but it doesn't pave the way for the all-singing-all-dancing internet of things. The White Paper deals with how this is evolving. Rather than give the whole game away, I'll just let you go take a read.

As if to emphasize the point, Aeris launched its AerCloud platform yesterday. That's certainly the direction that we're talking about.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Nate Silver, Moneyball and using data crunching to end marketing hunches

This is a (probably) under-conceived blogpost but it's based on a few things that I've been thinking about over the last couple of days.

I've been pulling together a few strands of thought about applying maths (math for my American chums) to various problems. This is well illustrated by two examples. Firstly the Oakland Athletics baseball team who famously, and successfully, ditched hunches to focus almost exclusively on statistics to pick the team and win matches. And very successful it was too, as famously shown in the movie Moneyball. The second example is Nate Silver, US pollster, who predicted 50 out of 50 states in the US in the most recent election and correctly called it comfortably for Obama while other pollsters were predicting a closer race. The important thing in Silver's case is that he was focusing solely on the numbers. What was the polling data saying? He ignored all the other extraneous noise inherent in a US election.

The two examples above have a lot in common. They involve dispassionate analysis based on as much data as possible. Surely there's a lesson for marketeers worldwide. Marketing has historically been based largely on hunches. However it doesn't need to any more. With more an more data available, including real time information on customer usage , marketing becomes less an art and more a science. This inevitably means that marketing moves into the domain of the data scientist. The lesson is clear: gather more data, crunch more data, base your decisions on that. Perhaps it's a little sad to admit that the good old fashion hunch isn't the best way to proceed, but it's probably the case.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The end of globalisation and 'everything on the internet'

We all know about globalisation, right? It's either the greatest evil of modern times stamping on the human face for all eternity (nod to Mr Orwell) or it has resulted in supreme efficiency savings due to a global division of labour and consequent specialisation that Adam Smith saw in microcosm in a pin factory all those years ago. Either way, we live in a global world. But for how much longer?

In the first quarter of 2013 Portugal created 70% of its electricity using renewable means. I don't want to belittle Portugal, as it's a delightful place and very progressive in technology in many ways. But if Portugal can go so far, and presumably it'll be at 100% within the next couple of years, then what's stopping a lot of other countries? Actually probably not a lot apart from the necessity and the will. If you still have cheap oil and gas you'll continue using it, but the price is only going one way. At some point, however, the sight of tankers ferrying hydrocarbons around the world will become a thing of the past. Every country will aim for energy independence. OK, perhaps not all of them, but virtually every country has some renewable energy asset it can harness. And then one pillar of globalisation will be removed. Power generation will get more and more local.

I'm also increasingly convinced that the shipping of manufactured goods will become more and more a thing of the past too. Labour costs around the world, and shipping costs to get the products to market, are also only heading one way. And that's before you get to 3D printing and the subsequent potential for local fabrication. Buy a door handle shipped from China? Why bother? I'll knock one up on my 3D printer.

Of course this doesn't mean an end to world trade. Raw materials are still unevenly distributed. And they will need to get to the people who want them. And there is going to be a continuing economic argument for manufacturing complex devices such as cellphones in a single point. But even that will erode over time.

And as the cost of travel rises with oil costs, we'll more and more turn to the virtual world for business meetings etc. and average Joe will be less able to afford to fly long haul. I know this is old territory but it is happening. Could all this point to a world that had once grown smaller growing much bigger again? Perhaps mine was the generation that reached a zenith in terms of having to travel for work and being able to travel for pleasure. The subsequent generation will do both to a much lesser extent. Mind you, if you want to see the world, you can always get the train/bus/scooter/truck/etc as I did. It just takes a bit longer.

The question then is: so what? Well, as a technology strategist the relevant thing is that the old 19th century industries* such as manufacturing etc will be reinvented in a radical way that requires connectivity and local intelligence. Companies that previously did business by making things will do so by selling designs. Imagine Ikea as a virtual playground where users download plans for items, pay a royalty and produce the content themselves. That is a connected world. And that's not just an internet of things, it's everything on the internet. Transport, manufacturing, news, you name it. It's all on the net.

*Ironically many industries that I'd count as being pre-19th century (banking, mining etc.) will continue to thrive.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

There's a top tier of 4 global M2M operators, but it's not all bad news for everyone else...

Last week we at Machina Research published the results of our annual M2M CSP Benchmarking Study. For the second year running, Vodafone was crowned the communications service provider (CSP) best placed to take advantage of the global M2M opportunity.

The study compared major M2M CSPs in six key areas that will determine their future success: Pedigree, Platform, Place, Partnerships, Process and People. Based on ratings across each of these six ‘P’s, Machina Research has identified a clear top tier of four CSPs that are establishing themselves as global leaders: AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Vodafone.

Obviously everyone's interested in why Vodafone got the top spot and what we see in the other three operators to single those four out as the top tier. In many cases it's a question of scale. Who has the global clout to win and profitably support a global M2M deployment? But it's more than that. It's also about having the right focus on doing M2M the 'right way'. For instance, Vodafone benefits tremendously from its scale, but it has also focused a lot of attention on adding value through a diverse set of product offerings and pursuing new approaches to reduce the cost and complexity of M2M offers. Also, structurally it is now better placed to address M2M having bought C&W Worldwide and effectively promoted M2M within the new Vodafone Enterprise Division.”

However, I think it's safe to say that the best way to score well in the rankings is to demonstrate the ability to support large deployments in all corners of the world. The remainder of the top 3 all did good work in 2012 to achieve that: Deutsche Telekom confirmed its commitment to the US (which is very much the ace up its sleeve), AT&T proved its global credentials through its network of operator alliances and Telefonica really pushed the new M2M alliance with DOCOMO, Rogers et al (but I wish they'd come up with an official name!!!).

We talk to a lot of end user customers, particularly in recent weeks auto OEMs, and our view about a global top tier very much aligns with their thinking. There's only a small select band that they'd turn to. Of course that's not to say that these huge global deals are the be-all-and-end-all of M2M. In fact they're typically a bit lower margin than the smaller scale SME business. Those CSPs not in the top tier are well able to address many other interesting and profitable opportunities in M2M. They can, for instance, focus on particular vertical sectors or on differentiating in their footprint territories based on specific assets they have.

For more details of the report click here. For the press release, click here.

Friday, 22 February 2013

New white paper from Machina Research on M2M and Big Data

Jim Morrish referred to it in his recent blogpost and it's now here. Machina Research has just published a White Paper entitled: Big Data in M2M: Tipping Points and Subnets of Things.

Now, this wasn't just an attempt to crowbar two of telecoms hottest areas into one white paper. In reality a huge amount of value will be created in M2M through the analysis of data. There are two big questions for me: Firstly, how do we go from where we are today to this all-singing-all-dancing, IoT-enabled network of connected devices? And secondly, how do mobile operators capture some of the value created? These are just two of the questions that we tackle in the white paper.

I would write more about it, but I wouldn't do it justice. There's some really innovative thinking in there, looking at subnets of things (you heard it here first, and if you hear other people talking about it you should direct them to Jim) and the tipping points associated. Do yourself a favour and read it!

Right, I'm off to Mobile World Congress now. See you on the other side...

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mobile World Congress comes around again and it's about handsets? Really?

I was checking out some pre-Mobile World Congress coverage the other day. I won't say who by. It involved a gaggle of analysts all talking excitedly about handsets: form factor, screens, blah blah blah. And they were only talking about handsets. This set me thinking. Has MWC really come down to this? Handsets. And that's it.

MWC is an event that is ostensibly run for the benefit of mobile network operators, being organised by their trade body, the GSM Association. And the biggest (in many cases only) talking point is the biggest source of the leaching of value out of the sector, i.e. those $500 smart phones. I realise, of course, that handsets are important, but there are a million and one things that operators and others are doing that are innovative and worthy of discussion.

If I were a mobile operator doing great work developing new products and services and all the analysts (and the seekers/aggregators of analyst opinions) were focusing on handsets I might wonder why I bother and particularly why my tradeshow had become hijacked to that extent.