Have we been wrong about the Internet of Things all along?

We use "machine to machine" and "Internet of Things" interchangeably. But the two concepts are very distinct.
We use “machine to machine” and “Internet of Things” interchangeably. But the two concepts are very distinct.

I’m just slogging through all the articles I marked “to read” but never got around to during the relax-o-frenzy that is the holiday season.

One of the better ones I’ve found comes from the Web site Techbitzz.com. On December 31, they ran a nice and succinct write up that addresses one of the most confusing nomenclature problems in the technology world today: the differences between “machine-to-machine” (or M2M) technology and the “Internet of Things” (or IoT).

As the article notes, the tendency these days is to just conflate “M2M” and “IoT” – as if the latter is just a newer, cooler term for the former. But that’s not the case. In fact: the two terms refer to very different things.

According to the article:

“M2M can be defined in simple terms as, ‘Machines’ (can be a sensor, meter, valve etc)  using network resources (can comprise of core telecom network, back-end server, access and radio networks, and a gateway) to communicate with remote application infrastructure for the purposes of monitoring and control, either of the ‘machine’ itself, or of the surrounding environment. Thus, it is said that M2M creates an intelligent inter-machine co-ordination ecosystem.”

In contrast, the Internet of Things is defined as:

“The next generation of the internet that we know today…(which will) enable all devices to share data with each other seamlessly without the intervention of the human beings.”

A useful analogy is to think of the M2M network as similar to the local area network (or LAN) of the 1980s and 90s in which “a few machines can exchange data.” In contrast, the  IOT can be thought of “as the Internet, in which all devices are connected and are capable of communication with each other.”

Smart devices, then, aren’t really “Internet of Things” so much as “M2M” – communicating with a small population of other, similar devices with specialized functions and communicating over proprietary networks and using proprietary (or at least not universally adopted) protocols and methods. True “Internet of Things” adoption is still some ways off – maybe 5 or 7 years, the article suggests. 

[Read more Security Ledger coverage of The Internet of Things.]

How will we know when we’re there? The article notes that the telltale signs of a transition can be found in a move from M2M as a way to increase efficiency and reduce operational expenses (OPEX) to IoT applications and services as revenue generating opportunities. Also, the transition from a silo’d M2M world to the IoT will also see barriers between device manufacturers, application developers and carriers begin to break down, with mergers and consolidation up and down the IoT value chain.

It’s an interesting piece and well worth the read. Check it out via How has the Internet of Things Value Chain Evolved over Last 2 Years? – Techbitzz.

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