Industry discussions on the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and its potential benefits have raised numerous questions regarding distinctions between the IoT and its forerunner, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. Remote device access is a core common deliverable for both solutions, so questions concerning how to distinguish between the two are understandable.
Commonality between the two solution types largely ends there; they differ in how they achieve remote device access. For example, traditional M2M solutions typically rely on point-to-point communications using embedded hardware modules and either cellular or wireline networks. In contrast, IoT solutions rely on IP-based networks to interface device data to a cloud or middleware platform.
The M2M market's sustained inability to realize its forecast growth potential — and the reasons for that failure — provide telling indicators of the true differences between the IoT vs. M2M. While M2M solutions offer remote access to machine data, these data are traditionally targeted at point solutions in service management applications. Rarely, if ever, are the data integrated with enterprise applications to help improve overall business performance. Integration of device and sensor data with Big Data, analytics and other enterprise applications is a core concept behind the emerging IoT. This integration is key to achieving numerous benefits throughout the manufacturing enterprise and, ultimately, growth in the marketplace.