Having two small children, I still have the fun of writing the annual list to Santa.  They get a warm and fuzzy feeling that always makes me feel both excited and a little jealous of.  To give me the same warm and fuzzy feeling that they have, I decided to come up with my own Christmas wish list. 

This list is what I wish for in the world of M2M. Some of them are what I wish for the entire industry and some are for more selfish reasons.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

A common language for all

I like the work that IBM (and the rest of the MQTT forum) has done to push forward the dream of a standardized protocol for M2M / IoT communication, but as of yet, it is still at the "dream" phase.  Over time, this standard should win out as the go-to way for sensors, gateways and other devices to communicate, but until it does, this industry is getting even more divided than ever.

While I am at it, we need to see a better alignment between the different elements of the M2M world.  Cellular modems/gateways need to talk better to sensors....Modems need to talk better to all of the various application enablement / device management platforms and all of these things need to be easier to integrate into key systems that people use every day.  We made great strides in 2013, but we still have a long way to go.

A greater sense of urgency for M2M from the Industry Giants

Ok, on the positive side, there was a lot more talk about M2M / IoT than ever before.  Large companies became much more involved in traditional cellular / M2M events. Large scale ad campaigns were done by companies promoting what is coming and large R&D investments have been made by large companies.  However, we need to see less talk and more action.

We need to see companies pushing their sales staff to talk more about this with their customers.  While they are at it, they might as well provide these same salespeople with M2M quotas, as we all know that salespeople sell what is in their quota.  As well, we need to continue to bring down the barriers to mass adoption of M2M.  This includes better security solutions, better cloud-based offerings and better ways to alleviate customer's concerns about the impacts of M2M (such as overloading their networks and how to best package the data to improve the productivity of their workers).

Better batteries for the M2M stocking

This may come out of left field for some people.  What does a better battery have to do with M2M?  Well, for many industries, it is the reason why many deployments do not happen.  Imagine you have a location that you have limited access to, but is not well serviced by traditional power sources?  How do you find an M2M solution that meets both needs?

An example of this issue is found in the world of water metering.  Most water meters are located inside of people's homes, so the utility company does not have unfettered access to change a battery when it fails.  So, one of the concerns about this space was that any solution had to be reliable but have an extremely long battery life (say 3-5 years at a minimum).  However, this brought up two issues, cost and battery size.

It is quite easy to find a battery that will work in just about every M2M solution, assuming that you have no limits on battery size or on cost (but what if you had restrictions on both)?  There has been some great developments by companies in this space, so I think the water meter market is now well served, but what about the rest of the M2M world?

Battery life (when you factor in size and cost) needs to not only catch up, but to keep pace with the M2M world for us to see much faster growth.  Batteries need to get smaller (to better fit in sensors), cheaper (to reduce the costs to foster more deployment) and last longer (to allow for less changing of batteries in remote areas).  Part of this also means that devices will have to get smarter to better maximize the life of batteries.....reducing the amount of chatter on the network, reducing the power requirements of the radios and using lower power components will help to make batteries last longer.

A better understanding of M2M benefits and less about its concerns

Part of the reason for the concerns about M2M really have nothing to do with M2M directly.  While most of the revelations revealed by Edward Snowden have nothing to do with M2M, the idea that "big brother" can get more information about you (where you drive from road sensors, how much electricity you use from smart meters and when you arrive at work from GPS) is very upsetting to some people.  I understand that, and I think that as an industry, the world of M2M has done a horrible job in selling the general public about the benefits of M2M.

M2M will improve the quality of life in so many ways...it will reduce electricity usage, improve your drive to work, help keep us healthy and much more.  We need to work much harder to get out this message and to put in better controls to ensure that your data is safe.

Bottom line

I hope that everyone has a great and relaxing holiday season.  As an industry, we have had a great 2013 and I think we all agree that we are in for many more great years.  I think everyone has their own wish list.....as an industry, we need to talk more about how to improve things as a whole to help us all have a better 2014!

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