The distinction between Machine to Machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be baffling. In fact, the misconception that M2M and IoT is the same has been a continuing subject of discourse in the tech-sphere.

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But now, more than ever, as both technologies continue to evolve at break-neck speed.

Both M2M and IoT boast of remote device access. Thus, the two terms have been interchanged mistakably often.

While both are connectivity solutions for enterprise, they are each two different schools of solution. M2M and IoT connect different things but achieve connectivity differently.

Before delving deeper into the discussion of differences, here is a quick run through on where both technologies overlap.

Remote access

To be clear, M2M is the forerunner of IoT. M2M set the foundations of machine connectivity on which IoT improved on, IoT development takes place and is practically built upon.

IoT is the bigger vision on connectivity that is fueled by the advancements of M2M applications.

M2M is, first and foremost, a business solution that connects businesses to their likewise connected machines.

Remote-Access

M2M revolutionizes business operations by enabling them to monitor and manage their machines or pieces of equipment remotely.

The main deliverable of M2M is to connect a device to the cloud so that business can manage that device and collect data from it remotely.

IoT is a mass market technology that applies to both consumers and enterprises.

Consumer IoT connects people to their devices and similarly, allows for remote control over those devices.

Enterprise IoT, on the other hand, takes it further by facilitating asset tracking and management.

Improvement of business performance

A vital application of both technologies is its’ data-centricity. Because of the provided connectivity, data from these devices can be gleaned for feedback on its performance, user experience, and maintenance.

For instance, data from M2M systems are used to locate system errors and cut down on maintenance costs by eliminating the need for constant manual upkeep.

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Indeed, the connectivity that both M2M and IoT provide allows for the collection of analytics and other valuable insights that businesses can use to leverage in the improvement of their systems.

Undeniably, M2M and IoT share common aspects. The core similarity is that both provide remote access to machine data and both exchange information among machines without human intervention.

Nonetheless, two are not synonymous. Here are where IoT and M2M diverge.

How is connectivity achieved?

IoT and M2M vary largely in how they achieve remote device access. M2M depends on point-to-point communications with the use of hardware components embedded in the machine.

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These connected machines then communicate through a proprietary cellular or wired network to a dedicated software application.

On the other hand, IoT relies on standards-based IP networks to interface device data to a cloud or middleware platform.

What are being connected?

As the name implies, M2M connects machines to machines, whereas IoT takes machine-to-machine connectivity, integrates web applications, and connects it to a cloud.

While M2M employs isolated systems of sensors and islands of remotely collected and measured data, IoT converges disparate systems into an expansive system to enable new applications.

Simply put, IoT is more than device connectivity, as it is the network of connected devices.

Which is more scalable?

Because of its cloud-based architecture, IoT is inherently more scalable than M2M.

Scalable

Cloud-based architecture removes the need for additional hard-wired connections and M2M sim card installation.

How are the data utilized?

As mentioned, the most integral application of both IoT and M2M is their ability to improve business performance through a remote connectivity-powered collection of data.

However, it is good to note that each solution varies in how they use these data.

Typically, data from machine to machine systems are only leveraged in single simple applications—mostly related to maintenance.

M2M data are usually utilized in point solutions in service management applications. Integration of data to enterprise mobile applications is rare, if done.

Meanwhile, IoT steps it up by integrating device and sensor data with big data, analytics, and other enterprise mobile applications which M2M rarely does.

IoT not only provides prognostic maintenance, but also improves business processes and operations.

Although the data from M2M is undeniably still valuable, the functionality of the data from these systems are incomparable with the business applications of the data from IoT.

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The supplier landscapes

Talking about the supplier landscape, M2M and IoT applications possess different competencies which directly affects its user’s ability to leverage the desired benefits of their solutions.

For M2M, the supplier’s competencies are generally focused on the “plumbing” aspects. In particular, the cellular telecommunications networks and the embedded hardware.

Many M2M suppliers have now begun to add cloud capabilities via acquisition, partnering, or internal development and this is an effective representation of a new terrain.

On the other hand, the IoT suppliers emphasize more on software capabilities which particularly includes enterprise integration.

Communication channels and applications

Talking about the communication channels and applications, M2M generally utilizes point-to-point communications among hardware devices, machines, and sensors all via modems to access cellular, proprietary, and wired networks.

On the other hand, the IoT sensors uses the IP networks protocols which are mostly used for transferring the data traffic on Internet.

Final words

In a nutshell, both technologies enable machines to communicate, collect, store, and exchange data; autonomously make corresponding decisions; and perform tasks with very minimal human intervention.

However, M2M and IoT are not synonymous. They are different solutions for the enterprise.

M2M and IoT primarily vary in terms of how they achieve connectivity, what they aim to connect, how scalable they are, and how data is utilized.

Nonetheless, machine to machine and the Internet of Things both envision a world where all devices are endowed with “smart” capabilities that enable them to communicate and interact with other devices remotely.

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