On the Spot

September 01, 2011

The Rise of M2M Means Standards Are Critical

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2011 issue of Next Gen Mobility

The simple fact is that standards are most conducive to economies of scale if they are compatible worldwide. Technology standards in particular are critical as the world gets “smaller” and connections increase at an exponential rate. Perhaps one of the most important issues today regarding worldwide technology standards is in regard to machine-to machine technology.  Beyond the 5 billion devices connected to the Internet, the potential for greatest growth comes from M2M deployments.

There’s no question M2M has become the backbone of today’s worldwide business. But the systems today look different in the U.S. vs. Europe, vs. China, vs. India. Many organizations around the world are working on M2M standardization in their own backyards, for sure, but that only increases the possibility of redundant or conflicting standards.

The availability of global M2M standards will be an important enabler for connecting multiple devices in complex systems and reaching economies of scale for manufacturers and solution providers alike. In short, we are working to bridge the needs for standards and the market’s needs. 

The Global Standards Collaboration Machine-to-Machine Standardization Task Force gathered on an invitation-only basis for a two-day meeting in May, during TIA 2011: Inside the Network, the annual member meeting and industry event of the U.S.-based Telecommunications Industry Association (News - Alert). The GSC MSTF meeting clearly demonstrated the imperative need for M2M standardization and related collaboration. 

After this productive meeting, at which we were largely enlightened by industry peers and experts from Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States, we outlined several critical issues that we need to address most urgently. We all agreed that a key next step is to consider the work being done in vertical markets where substantial standardization is also being accomplished. Since standards are being worked on simultaneously, it’s critical that we have strong relationship and cooperative liaisons with vertical organizations to reduce duplication and avoid fragmentation of standards. The GSC MSTF organization will talk about this vertical need and much more at a September follow-up meeting at the Georgia Tech Research Institute in Atlanta. It will be open to the public.

The discussions at this Sept. 20-21 event will seek to highlight the role and importance of machine-to-machine communications standards in vertical markets as well as the contribution of vertical industry associations in standards development. Organizations and companies such as the U.S. Department of Energy GridWise Architecture Council, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the International Payments Forum, the International Society of Automation, GE and Oracle (News - Alert) will be represented at the Atlanta conference.

At the September GSC MSTF meeting – the theme of which is M2M standards as growth enablers – our goal is very simple: To present to a broad audience the pervasiveness and diversity of M2M technologies, underline the critical role of standards in market growth, and encourage comments and ideas about the direction of standardization. We plan to finalize an activity map from which we will make recommendations on current and future M2M standardization undertakings in close liaison with the ITU. These suggestions and perspectives will be presented at the annual GSC event (GSC-16), which will begin Oct. 31 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Atlanta meeting, hosted by TIA (News - Alert), will be broken down in two parts. The first day will take the form of a conference at the Georgia Tech Research Institute auditorium where experts from a wide range of industries will present their views on the impact of M2M standards on their vertical markets. The second day will feature a roundtable focused on summarizing the findings of the Dallas and Atlanta meetings, and drafting suggestions and recommendations regarding the direction of global M2M standardization. Topics we will discuss, debate and hone in on include health care/telehealth, transportation/logistics, residential and commercial security/home automation, payments, manufacturing and energy.

In the end, it isn’t a question of if we need to work together to make M2M worldwide standards a reality. It’s something that definitely needs to happen or, I fear, the lack of standards will dramatically slow down the industry’s progress. Without standards we cannot grow, evolve and succeed.  

I hope you will join us in September and let your voice be heard as we work to develop worldwide M2M standards. Interested participants in registering for the free conference and/or the roundtable can do so at  Additional information can be obtained from Alain Louchez, GSC MSTF coordinator, at [email protected].

Jeffrey O. Smith is chief technology officer at Numerex (News - Alert) ( 

TMCnet publishes expert commentary on various telecommunications, IT, call center, CRM and other technology-related topics. Are you an expert in one of these fields, and interested in having your perspective published on a site that gets several million unique visitors each month? Get in touch.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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