Sorting Out the Difference Between M2M and IoT

Sorting Out the Difference Between M2M and IoT Mobile IoT Motion Systems GroupThe difference between Machine to Machine (M2M) and The Internet of Things (IoT) can be confusing. While both M2M and IoT involve sharing data and can be connectivity solutions for enterprises, they are different schools of solutions mainly varying in the way they achieve connectivity.  

Differences and similarities

There are several distinct differences between the solutions when it comes to their basic principle and applications. M2M refers to direct communication between devices such as machines, smartphones and appliances. The communication itself is completed using wired or wireless communication channels, whereas IoT is based on the fundamentals of sensors that can collect and analyze data in real-time. This connectivity of sensors can occur without the intervention of humans.

To map it out and draw a connection between the two: IoT is simply the “bigger vision” of connectivity and is fueled by the advancements of M2M applications. The main deliverable of M2M is to enable businesses to manage and collect data remotely by connecting their device(s) to the cloud. IoT, on the other hand, is a mass-market technology that applies to both consumers and enterprises. Enterprise IoT is increasing in popularity and takes business communication one step further by facilitating asset tracking and management, such as Parker’s Mobile IoT for off-highway equipment.

As the name implies, M2M connects machines to machines, whereas IoT takes machine-to-machine connectivity, integrates web applications and connects it to a cloud. While M2M employs isolated systems of sensors and records of remotely collected and measured data, IoT converges disparate systems into a comprehensive system to enable new applications. IoT steps it up by integrating device and sensor data with big data, analytics and other enterprise mobile applications. Comprehensive achievements like these are rarely captured by M2M systems on their own.

IoT not only provides prognostic maintenance but also improves business processes and operations. For instance, Parker’s Mobile IoT solution records and stores all data in the cloud, allowing visibility and adjustments to machine operations in real-time. Users can access the performance data remotely, making it easy for OEMs and their customers to collect and analyze data sets to identify usage trends and field-based problems with unparalleled intellectual design and insight. 

Direct communication between machines Sensors automation and internet platform
Supports point-to-point communication Supports cloud communication
Devices don’t necessarily rely on an internet connection Devices rely on an active internet connection
Mostly hardware-based technology Both hardware and software-based technology
Normally communicate with a single machine at a time Many users can access at one time over the internet
A device can connect through mobile or other networks Data delivery depends on the internet protocol (IP) network

Simply put, IoT is more than device connectivity, as it is the network of connected devices. The chart below demonstrates a side-by-side comparison of the two solutions to more easily understand their distinct differences.

Undeniably, M2M and IoT share common aspects. The core similarity is that both provide remote access to machine data and both exchange information among machines without human intervention.


In a nutshell, both technologies enable machines to communicate, collect, store and exchange data; autonomously lead to corresponding decisions, and perform tasks with minimal human intervention. Yet, as we can see, M2M and IoT are not synonymous.

The two are different solutions for enterprises and provide different levels of data exchange and collection. M2M and IoT primarily vary in terms of how they achieve connectivity, what they aim to connect, how scalable they are and how the data is utilized. Both, however, have a focused geared toward a more connected and “smart” world.

Learn more about IoT solutions for OEMs

Sorting out the Difference Between M2M and IoT Mobile IoT Motion Systems GroupArticle contributed by Clint Quanstrom, IoT general manager, Motion Systems Group, Parker Hannifin Corporation and Kyri McDonough, marketing communications manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation.





Sorting Out the Difference Between M2M and IoT Kyri McDonough Motion Systems Group






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