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Exploring Social Network Apps and M2M Interactions

A new global market study by ABI Research finds that integration with social networks will add significant value to enterprise machine-to-machine (M2M) strategies in the coming years, as more savvy company leaders discover the innovation enabling potential of the Internet of Everything.

Initially, this trend will concern internal social channels -- such as Salesforce.com’s Chatter -- which is forecast to be actively used by 60,000 enterprises at end-2013.

Going forward, the emphasis will shift towards Facebook and other consumer-facing networks, which ABI Research forecasts to cover 2.9 billion users by end-2018.

"There’s an intriguing intersection developing around social networks and M2M services. At this stage the activity is nascent, but over the next five years we expect the relationship between the two to become increasingly synergistic," said Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI Research.

The innovations it results in will add a strong social ingredient to the megatrend for the next decade -- the Internet of Everything (IoE).

The immediate form of this is the mixing of machine data with CRM processes. Salesforce.com has been notably active in this field, having already teamed up with M2M players Axeda and Digi International to provide such Social-M2M convergence.

Meanwhile, there are also early signs of taking the reverse approach to this convergence -- and using social data to interact with machines. Most of these interactions stem currently from the maker movement and are enabled by open-source Arduino microcontrollers.

The most commercially prominent example is a marketing stunt that Brazilian drink brand Guarana Antarctica ran last year, featuring a campaign car that could be driven towards its destination only if there were enough "likes" and "comments" on its Facebook page.

In the future, we should expect to see also two-way flows of social and machine data.

"Today, social M2M is about informational silo-busting in enterprises and novelty experiments in the consumer space, but the concept has enough potential to enable use cases that still seem futuristic. The day when we could use Facebook as a dashboard of home automation systems is closer than you might first think," said Dan Shey, practice director at ABI Research.

Moreover, we should anticipate even more convergence of social networking and M2M apps in the coming months, particularly in the evolving managed cloud services arena.

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