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M2M/IoT at CTIA 2013: IMC Launched, New Focus on SES Application Layer and New Hope for Connected Cars

The IMC (International M2M Council) was finally launched at the CTIA show this last week, after much discussion and meetings in Europe and North America over the last 18 months. We see this as a significant and very welcome new trade organization – one that is dedicated to giving an international voice for the M2M/IoT community and does not view M2M through the narrow perspective of a single technology, product category or vertical industry. The key aim will be to bring together vendors who collectively form the M2M Solution Provider community with Adopters of M2M solutions into a single membership organization. We believe it will be highly complementary to other regionally-focused M2M organizations, notably the increasingly successful M2M Alliance in Germany. Founding members of the IMC are Deutsche Telekom, Digi, Kore Telematics, Oracle, Orbcomm and Telit with more to follow soon we believe. See the website for more details – www.im2mc.org

Elsewhere, a trend we have mentioned before was very much in evidence at the show this year: the shift in focus from connectivity to extracting value from connected device data. While device connectivity will always be important – crucial even – it is becoming more accepted in the market as a given and something to build on. For the last four years, Beecham Research has drawn a distinction between what we refer to as the network layer (managed connectivity) and the application layer (managed data) within the overall scope of M2M Service Enablement Services (SES) – M2M platforms. We also predicted long ago the necessary shift in focus that is now evident: towards the application layer that has more intrinsic value than the network layer. Expect lots of activity – acquisitions and new development announcements – in the M2M market centred around the SES application layer during the next 6-12 months! Such activity will lead the market to a whole new ballgame – of which more later . . .

The most interesting and practical new service we saw at the show was Telenor Connexion’s (www.telenorconnexion.com) Split Billing Suite, initially aimed at the Connected Car market but with lots of potential elsewhere as well – for example in the Smart Home environment. The principle behind this is the need to find a way of sharing a single network connection between many different and diverse services, each often being provided by completely different service providers. Think vehicle diagnostics versus in-car entertainment. How do you get two such diverse services to share a single connection out of the car, so you don’t end up with dedicated connections for each service that may well price both of them out of the market? Who pays for that single connection? How does each independent service provider get access to that connection? Telenor Connexion’s answer is to offer an intermediate service that offers deep packet inspection so that service packet streams can be separated out in real time and directed to each service provider independently. We think this is an elegant approach to a problem that the M2M market has been wrestling with for some time.

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