By John Schulz, AT&T Director of Sustainability Operations

Over the last 20 years we’ve experienced a communications revolution. The ways in which people are connected globally radically changed, bringing with it change to the way we live, work and play. As people-to-people communication evolves, a new evolution is gaining momentum, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

M2M technology – whereby sensors and networks connect all parts of a system to communicate effectively – has the potential to enable the world to do more with less and meet the needs of an increasing population. We’re truly standing at the beginning of M2M’s adoption curve – the end result of which could be a $1 trillion global industry by 2020 as well as realizing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the total CO2 emissions of the United States and India in 2010.  

And yet, there are barriers that are slowing both the productivity and efficiency benefits to business and the environmental benefits to society. 

To gain a better understanding of the business and environmental benefits as well as the barriers inhibiting wide-scale adoption, we commissioned Carbon War Room to analyze the current landscape and propose some solutions. The result of that work is a new study, Machine-to-Machine Technologies: Breaking the Barriers of a $1 Trillion Industry, which we released at Mobile World Congress this week.

The study explores the market barriers that are inhibiting wide-scale adoption of M2M, including the lack of universal standards and performance data, a fragmented value chain, and the need for innovative sales and marketing strategies. It also identifies the sectors with the greatest revenue and environmental benefit potential: energy, built environment, fleet/asset management and agriculture.

M2M is starting to gain the momentum that many forecast, and this study offers a compelling assessment of the steps we can take to realize its full potential for economic and environmental benefit.

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