According to analysts at Future Market Insights Blog, the machine-to-machine (M2M) market will be valued at $376 billion by 2032. The same group estimates the total volume for 2016 to 2021 was $336 billion. The numbers don't lie: The market for this kind of network is growing fast.
And in tandem with this market growth, M2M networks are evolving as companies look toward the future.
Thus, let's take a look at the current state of M2M and the technologies advancing it.
What is M2M?
Machine-to-machine (M2M) describes the interaction between multiple machines or pieces of equipment without the need for human involvement. By remaining simultaneously connected to the internet and to one another, M2M setups allow countless devices to "talk" to one another — sharing data with each other to streamline daily life and business processes.
M2M is closely related to the Internet of Things (IoT) concept, which describes a network of devices which are connected to the internet and to each other.
1. Artificial Intelligence
AI is especially good at handling repetitive, top-level tasks. This can be useful for managing the M2M data you get through methods like sensor fusion. For example, suppose you have an assembly line where the machines are chatting away to each other in M2M format — perhaps using the network topology's control plane. (The M2M process may or may not be internet-connected, but these days it's more likely to be routed through the web.) However, regardless of the M2M process' internet connectivity, AI machines can use that data to automate business processes and make things work better in real time. (Also read: Top Artificial Intelligence Trends to Look Forward To.)
Still, even with AI, it's helpful to have a human in the loop to iron out any snags.
2. Cellular, Short-Range and Wired M2M
Not only are we seeing M2M processes themselves evolve, but we’re also seeing the underlying cellular technology advance. While earlier M2M processes were working over 3G, they’re probably starting to work over 5G.
Alternatives to contemporary cellular technology include short-range systems like Bluetooth M2M and wired or cabled systems.
Each of these emergencies reflects its own concerns in terms of cybersecurity and has to be developed in a deliberate infrastructure plan that takes into account the threat vectors around each of these communication methods. That’s somebody’s job, whether it’s a CISO, an outside consultant or some other role. (Also read: How to Protect Critical Infrastructure From Cyber Attack.)
3. Machine Identity Management
Based on the traditional identity access management (IAM) strategies used to keep track of employees using distributed computing systems, machine identity management purports to bring the same type of tracking to machines themselves.
This means someone is always monitoring what machines are doing and saying over time. And it makes sense, as IAM itself continues to be updated to meet the threats of today’s online world.
4. Lightweight M2M
Lightweight M2M (LwM2M) is a newly emerging category of M2M that essentially involves the development of low-power, low-bandwidth internet of things (IoT) devices for machine-to-machine communications. Here’s how the technology is described at OMA SpecWorks:
“Lightweight M2M is a device management protocol designed for sensor networks and the demands of a machine-to-machine (M2M) environment…The LwM2M protocol, designed for remote management of M2M devices and related service enablement, features a modern architectural design based on REST.”
With that in mind, experts see LwM2M as a step in combining traditional M2M wit IoT. (Also read: How Low-Code Can Help Businesses Automate IoT Networks.)
Legal and Cybersecurity Concerns for M2M Networks
While these new technologies are pushing M2M forward, some analysis believe they will also usher in many new trade technology and privacy questions.
For example, "Medianama"'s Mitaksh Jain explores the use of "non-personal data," pointing out that this is the type of data M2M processes typically use.
“Some of this (M2M) data could be proprietary, or important to the company but when you make it open, there is a chance it will be accessible to other players, and affect their competitive advantage,” adds Nikhil Narendran, a partner at the Trilegal law firm. “The government will (also) get access to it…”
The argument seems to be that businesses will be vulnerable to other parties getting their hands on that data and using it in ways that may not be in their best interests. That’s something to watch in the context of developing M2M.
Artificial intelligence, cellular, short-range and wired M2M, machine identity management, and lightweight M2M will be instrumental in redefining what M2M means as companies rapidly innovate to compete in high-tech markets. Stay tuned.