Following ETSI’s (European Telecom Standards Institute) recent first release of an M2M Services standard at their workshop last October, this week saw two further related announcements. First, a joint announcement involving no less than 7 Standards Development Organizations from around the world, including ARIB (Japan), ATIS (USA), CCSA (China), ETSI (Europe), TIA (USA), TTA (Korea) and TTC (Japan). This initiative “recognizes that M2M services often rely upon communications networks for connectivity between the myriad of devices in the field and the M2M application servers, and have identified the need for a common cost-efficient, easily and widely available M2M Service Layer, which can be readily embedded within various hardware and software.” This will initially focus on the M2M Service Layer. It is to be hoped that each of these organizations has the same understanding of what the M2M Services Layer consists of.
The second announcement came from the ITU, also looking to establish a focus group on the M2M Service Layer, initially looking at the requirements for e-health. It is to be hoped that this will be consistent with the first initiative.
These initiatives are of course to be welcomed. Anything that helps to speed up, simplify and reduce the costs of bringing new M2M applications and services to market should be hugely beneficial. So long as they actually do that.
My concerns have more to do with how this plays out in the real world.
I have already talked elsewhere about Beecham Research’s own recently completed study in this area (click here for details) – what we refer to as M2M Service Enablement Services (SES). At present there are well over 60 M2M platforms in the market and this is growing quickly. They do not all do the same things – not by any means. During the course of the study, Beecham Research identified over 110 different service elements that either are or will likely shortly be offered by different platforms. None of them do them all though nor can they because of the way the market is structured. That structure is unlikely to change much, although of course the supply chain must be reduced in length and complexity.
So therein lies my first concern. Will these standards incorporate all such service elements? It seems unlikely. The M2M SES market is moving rapidly in many different directions, including billing, customer support, provisioning, application development, system integration and event processing to name a few. If these and other requirements are not fully catered for in the new standards, who does them?
That leads to my second concern. If the market gets to think that simpler all-embracing solutions are just around the corner, will they wait . . . only to find they aren’t?
That leads swiftly to my third concern. Who is responsible for implementing all this? This is not like introducing a new technology where technology suppliers just launch new standards-compliant products into the market. It is also not like a new cellular mobile feature that is totally in the domain of the mobile operators. These M2M services are appearing from many different sources, in different parts of different value chains.
Is this a recipe for market confusion that has the effect of slowing down rather than speeding up implementations?