Source from:
December 2016 Business SCAN

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications refer to autonomous communication between devices or machines. Advances in these areas are well underway, and they bring major new and different leadership and management challenges.

Innovation Forecast: Are we prepared for M2M?

Autonomous communication is often used for remote monitoring. In product restocking, for example, a vending machine can message the distributor when a particular item is running low. M2M communication is an important aspect of warehouse management, remote control, robotics, traffic control, logistic services, supply chain management, fleet management and telemedicine.

In combination, 5G will give wireless broadband the capacity it needs to power thousands of connected devices that will reach our homes and workplaces. It is expected to generate a major leap forward in many areas of the economy, such as smart cities, networked homes, healthcare and could facilitate a transportation revolution. Organisations need to investigate the innovation forecast on wireless communication and M2M development, look at market and business opportunities, and how it potentially will empower their industry.

Here are some examples of possible applications where 5G can make a significant contribution.

E-health applications

Can make use of wearable devices worn by patients in their own home to monitor variables
such as blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate. These devices can then securely and
reliably transmit the data in near-real-time to a health service which can rapidly intervene
(perhaps remotely) in case of need. These applications can reduce health costs by allowing
some patients to stay out of hospitals and care facilities and in their own homes.

Road transport

Can become safer and more efficient as connected cars share information in real time
with other vehicles; information from roadside infrastructure about a problem ahead can
allow drivers to change routes quickly.

Train travel

Can be more productive or entertaining as passengers travelling at 300 km/h on
high-speed trains through the countryside can work with full 5G network connectivity
to their cloud computing resources or stream their own choice of high-definition movie.


Can be enhanced with high-speed, high-capacity networking. In a densely-packed
crowd at a sporting event, each spectator could use their personal device to view or
immediately review events from different angles. Two-way interactive electronic gaming
can be enhanced with near immediate, high-capacity information in virtual reality.

Industry and manufacturing

Can be revolutionised. Intelligent connected robots in the Factory of the Future can
communicate with each other and products, to increase manufacturing efficiency, reduce
costs and produce individualised ‘one-off’ products. Sensors in connected products can
alert service centres in a timely fashion when in need of servicing, or can be used to provide
new service-based businesses. Workers equipped with augmented reality glasses, that
superimpose information on a worker’s view of the real world, can function more efficiently.

Sources: Agarwal, A., Misra, G. and Agarwal, K. (2015) The 5th Generation Mobile Wireless Networks- Key Concepts, Network Architecture and Challenges, American Journal of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 2015 3 (2), pp 22-28; European Parliament (2016) 5G network technology Putting Europe at the leading edge [online]. Available: [26 Nov 2016]

Action Point

Stress test your company’s future plans with regard to the expected impact of greatly enhanced wireless communication by identifying which of your business models could be affected. What does this mean in practice, and what advice might you subsequently give to your Board?

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Innovation Forecast: Are we prepared for M2M?
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