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M2M Driving New European Mobile Growth

Telecoms operators throughout Europe are struggling to find new pockets of meaningful growth in a landscape characterized by maturing markets and declining prices -- for example with voice and SMS.

One such pocket of growth is machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions such as fleet management systems, automatic meter reading, and surveillance solutions. An M2M solution brings several benefits to end users, primarily in terms of costs savings, accuracy of data, and improved business processes.

IDC forecasts that the European market for M2M solutions (including hardware, software, and services) will grow from $4.4 billion in 2006 to $19.2 billion in 2011, driven primarily by solutions for the enterprise segment.

"So far mobile operators have neglected this market due to a legacy ARPU focus. Logically, a SIM card in a remote module does not generate a lot of revenue if it sends one SMS per day with technical data; but it is the total solutions revenue that needs to be in focus," said Brian Troelsen, a research manager with IDC's European Telecoms and Services group.

It is essential for vendors to offer integrated solutions. Customers are looking for end-to-end vendors capable of handling the integration of dataflow to back-end systems and designing internal processes around the M2M solution. Due to the complex nature of M2M solutions comprising software, hardware, and communications, systems integrators, hardware vendors, and communications providers all have a part to play in delivering the solution.

"The fight for this market is between hardware vendors, software vendors, systems integrators, and telcos, which are fighting fiercely for market dominance with their respective competitive advantages. Systems providers had a head start due to strong business process understanding, which is a key element in most M2M implementations. But now we see that the largest telcos in Europe are starting to build up the necessary IT and consultancy skills of their own," said Troelsen.

An applications-centric perspective has typically not been a strong point of mobile phone service providers marketing efforts, so it will be interesting to monitor the M2M developments within the European market. Also, I'm wondering if the European carriers will be acting upon the lessons-learned from the Asian-Pacific market leaders. This would seem to be the most logical approach to apply, under the current circumstances.

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