The Internet of Everything was one of the top five emerging technologies trends in 2014 set by Gartner. Machine to Machine (M2M) plays a huge role when connecting machines to improve customers’ lifestyle and the performance of many enterprises.
The MENA region is one of the smaller M2M markets, but growth will be strong during the next 10 years. M2M device connections will increase from 3 million to 95 million in 2024, according to Analysys Mason.
Operators are aware of the importance of M2M in the region, where new related projects are being developed, and they are ready to be part of the development of this sector.
“We believe that growth in M2M demand in MENA will be coming from the automotive and transport and security sector in the short term, while utilities will increase its share of connections and become the dominant sector in terms of total M2M connections by 2024,” said Karim Yaici, lead analyst at Analysys Mason.
Predominantly, specialists interviewed by CommsMEA agreed that these sectors will bethe main industries adopting M2M.
“With a worldwide hype around smart cities, especially within GCC region, we can only expect a rise in the use of Internet of Things and M2M, particularly within Healthcare, Public Safety, Transportation, and Utilities, where based on our customers’ experience we have seen that connected devices are creating most value,” noted James Allerton-Austin, director of Product Management at Oracle EMEA.
Jean-Luc Scherer, head of Service Line Revenue Growth, Communication Service Practice at Ericsson said that “there is an increasing interest in all these industries to leverage the benefits of M2M. Each eco-system comes though with its own stakeholders, key players and regulations. The maturity to embrace M2M and alignment of stakeholders varies from one vertical to the other. The transport industry for instance is fairly mature in the region while healthcare still requires some work to take off. We see interest in areas like transport and vehicle tracking, asset tracking, security to name a few.
Across the region, experts believe that initial launches of M2M are expected to take place in early adopter markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Qatar.
Sherry Zameer, Vice President Telecommunication Solutions for Middle East and Africa at Gemalto continued saying that “the second wave of M2M launches is likely to come from mobile operators in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana …
George Galica, head of Business Solutions at Vodafone Qatar, confirms that the company is witnessing an increase internationally. “Globally we are seeing M2M adoption increase by over 80% across our operations, and M2M now represents a larger revenue stream than some of our smaller operators, so for Vodafone at least, this is not a niche revenue stream. We expect revenue to continue to grow strongly over the coming years.
“We are confident that there is indeed a massively increasing demand for connecting devices to networks. The B2B2C market will eventually take off: e-readers, digital picture frames, vehicle telematics and entertainment systems, and home appliances will increasingly be either connected to a fixed network or shipped with embedded SIMs for diagnostics and remote servicing. In contrast, the B2B market will proceed in fits and starts and show steady growth, but not at the volumes or rates of the B2B2C segment. It will continue to be highly customised. However, many businesses will take time to be convinced about the benefits of M2M,” said Saleem Al Balooshi, executive vice president, Network Development and Operations at du.
According to Yves Tjoens, director Home Applications at Alcatel-Lucent, operators today are building a revenue stream out of the connectivity needs for M2M end-points. “They could expand their services towards the industries and provide value add services like infrastructure management, application lifecycle management and application creation environments. This should provide operators with a healthy additional income stream.
Satellites to improve M2M connectivity
Some of the sectors where M2M will experience growth need to connect remote assets or track moving devices. To manage this aspect, satellites offer strategic advantages over terrestrial deployments. Camille Mendler, principal analyst at Ovum, said that satellites will be more important when the geographic conditions hinder terrestrial deployments.
Randall Roberts, vice president of Innovation at Thuraya, said that in Africa, specifically, there is a lot of opportunities for the company. “We can certainly support different applications. With satellites, we can we make sure that all areas are covered.
Smart cities and e-Health
Giorgio Heiman, vice president, Global Solutions and Services, Emerging Markets and Indirect at Orange, said that the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are leading the way when developing M2M. Dubai and Riyadh have set a very ambitious plans to develop Smart Cities.
Specifically in the MEA region, diabetes is a real concern. The Middle East and North Africa have the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world, accounting for at least four of the top 10 countries. Allerton-Austin said that “chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension could be better managed with smart technology, reducing the burden on healthcare resources.
“e-Health or m-Health will revolutionise healthcare, and has a huge role to play in transforming healthcare provision across the region and the rest of the world, commented Galica.
Analysts believe that e-Health is also becoming “trendy” as they offer customers new ways to improve their lifestyle and health. Yaici said that, at the moment, “most of the commercial e-health services cater only for end users, by providing lifestyle and medical information, using a smartphone application. Demand for B2C services is set to grow because more users will be looking for self-measurement services.