The UK’s Vodafone recently announced the availability of its machine-to-machine (M2M) platform in Qatar, allowing enterprise users access to solutions ranging from fleet management to asset tracking, with more services planned for launch over the short-term.

M2M allows vehicles and other assets such as automated teller machines (ATMS) or surveillance cameras to be managed remotely by installing a global subscriber identity module (SIM) card, similar to those installed in mobile phones.

The most common form of an M2M application is fleet management, where efficiencies are achieved not just by monitoring the actual location of vehicles, but by identifying the shortest and most efficient routes between destinations, as well as through the deployment of more advanced applications such as fuel level monitoring and predictive maintenance, among others.

M2M is seen as precursor to the internet-of-things where every foreseeable device, including cars and home appliances, is fitted with a sensor that can capture an event – temperature, location, consumption, light, altitude, speed, among others – that is relayed over a network delivering data to applications. These applications can then analyse the captured data and trigger actions based on pre-programmed choices, which could be as simple as turning a device on or off, without human intervention.

IOT has been triggering a major shift in most enterprises’ IT strategy. “Whereas applications used to interact between people and processes, today they are now interacting with things, and this will trigger an incremental increase in the volume of data that need to be translated into meaningful information through powerful analytics,” Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, said at a forum in Dubai in early March.

A report by US technology firm Cisco predicted that over 50 billion things worldwide will be “talking” to each other by 2020.

A company statement said Vodafone Qatar’s M2M capabilities now include an interactive portal for end users; global SIM cards powered by the world’s largest network; highly secure solutions; more than 1,300 M2M experts; broad portfolio of M2M terminals, application and service enablement development and testing and deployment.