A new study from ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) finds that integration with social networks will add significant value to enterprises’ M2M strategies in the coming years.
Initially, this trend will concern companies’ internal social channels, such as Salesforce.com’s Chatter, which is forecasted 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,” says senior analyst Aapo Markkanen. “At this stage the activity is nascent, but over the next five years we expect the relationship between the two to become increasingly synergistic. The innovations it results in will add a strong social ingredient to the decade’s true megatrend: the Internet of Everything.”
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,” says ABI Research practice director Dan Shey. “The day when we could use Facebook as a dashboard of home automation systems is closer than you might first think.”