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The flow of data is ever escalating and is raging at a torrent pace already today. It is expected to intensify further by many more orders of magnitude over the next five years. The source of all of this so called, Big Data is coming from machine-to-machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT). Of course, it is coming from other places too, but these two networks are expected to generate the majority of data. Some industry pundits predict the number of connected devices to exceed 50 billion by 2020. Other forecast 70 billion or even as high as 100 billion in the next five years. Whatever the true number of connected devices, the data flows will be mindbogglingly humongous and beyond comprehension.

When we discuss these two network approaches, it is surprising how confused people are and how they mix these terms as if they are the same thing. In fact, they have very different attributes and can be characterized in unique ways. Here is a breakdown of the characterization of M2M versus IoT.


While differences of opinion concerning how to best describe M2M versus IoT will certainly exist and continue into the future. These characterizations tend to hold true for most who have taken a deep dive to define these technologies. Other parameters may be missing so please feel free to comment as help to further refine this table.


Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless and digital communications technologies. He is a Senior Executive Consultant with IBM’s Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He was previously a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and earlier was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation. He holds three Masters level degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has diplomas and certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology.