Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication was undoubtedly a hot topic in 2012. Recent research by Analysys Mason predicts that the number of M2M devices is set to grow to 2.1 billion by 2021, and as 2012 came to an end, the number of connected devices and subscribers of M2M didn’t seem slow – in fact, quite the opposite.

With the launch of 4G in the UK last year, and the Government’s plans to establish a new network from 2014, connecting all of UK’s 53 million smart meters, organisations will need more scalable solutions to leverage not only thousands but millions of M2M devices.

These developments will accelerate the deployment of M2M technology and bring forward the need for more sophisticated M2M management solutions. To support the continual development of networking technology, organisations will have to increasingly consider off-premise strategies to leverage the sheer number of devices. Therefore, the big issue of 2013 will be how to scale up M2M without grinding to a halt.

Cloud-based solutions can offer a good alternative to traditional M2M platforms as they enable organisations to achieve the desired scalability for massive M2M implementations. Some of the great benefits of this approach are, for example, low IT maintenance costs, fast deployment and implementation and quick time-to-market for new services and products.

With cloud-based services, organisations benefit from increased flexibility and can easily adapt to remain up-to-date with market trends. Working in the cloud, organisations will be able to offer more scalable solutions, allowing them to innovate with new products and services to create competitive advantage and stay at the forefront of the M2M market space.

In parallel with the challenge of scalability, 2013 will see the full implementation of 4G networking and LTE. As M2M aligns with LTE, more devices will be connected to the Internet, turning the vision of IoT into a reality. Organisations will be able to benefit from increased data capacity, higher internet speeds, and lower latency, enabling them to boost productivity and create new opportunities for innovative M2M apps and services that were not previously possible with 3G and 2G networks.

With the increasing demand for bandwidth, LTE can provide the extra capacity required as well as enabling new M2M applications, for example where the higher bandwidth connections of LTE might allow the streaming of HD video from devices. The lower latency inherent in LTE networks also benefits applications that require real-time data, such as traffic management applications for smart cities, security systems and alarms, and healthcare applications.

A great benefit to the M2M space this year will be choice of network frequencies in certain markets, such as in the UK. Wireless signals will be able to penetrate deeper into buildings – a key requirement for connecting smart meters or security devices on-premise. In the not so distant future, these advances in M2M and networking will allow businesses to further develop through the use of embedded connectivity, driving innovation and ROI growth.

Despite the challenges that networking developments and scalability bring, new technologies have the potential to transform enterprises, enable companies to achieve competitive advantages and provide cost-effective, innovative products and services to come to market. However, to be able to make the most of the M2M space, businesses need effective mechanisms to manage, scale and secure the provisioning of M2M services across multiple geographies, operating systems and lines of business.