You’ve probably seen the trending discussions around the Internet of Things (IoT), starting to pop up everywhere from tech magazines to Tumblr. You’ve also probably had to look it up, and thought, wow this is some Nineteen Eighty Four stuff. But you also may have realized that there is huge potential in the trend to “technologize” everything that will have major effects on our everyday decision making. Especially when it comes to business decisions, IoT will potentially cause a radical change in how companies operate, and how they earn their revenue. But all this will hinge on having the proper business intelligence software, that can actually take all the data that IoT will create and analyze it.
Tracking the World
The basic idea behind IoT is that you can place sensors and microchips anywhere and everywhere, creating a network that connects all possible devices. Basically, we are about to enter an age in which everything will have an IP address – from your bicycle to your pens to your washing machine. All these things will be linked and reporting. Most importantly, they will be generating tons of data.
Even right now, every 60 seconds 1820 Terabytes of data are created – and that’s just a drop in the ocean compared to what will happen in a world of IoT. According to a report by Cisco, more than half of IP traffic will come from intelligent devices other than PCs by 2018. By that same year there will be 7.3 billion machine-to-machine connections. It’s expected that almost everything, from headsets to airplanes, will be tracking and collecting data. Businesses in all markets, especially those with the insight to hop on the trend early, will be able to start connecting to and utilizing smart devices. The new model will offer businesses enormous benefits such as more effective monitoring of equipment and machinery, energy management, better security, higher efficiency, and more. It has the potential to save companies billions of dollars, if employed well.
Because of course not all of what’s out there will be useful. But in this ocean of information there will be a goldmine of data that we will now be able to both analyze for the first time, as well as do it in the context of other facts. With recent advances in Big Data visualization and analytics there are now cost-effective solutions, that are continuously being improved, to storing and analyzing all the data that will come out of IoT. So if we can store it, how can we use it? How can businesses, and what could it mean for society in general, leverage it in a way that promises real improvements?
Saving the World, Or at Least Your Bottom Line
There’s something a little frightening about the fact that information about everything you do can be recorded and analyzed. But it needn’t be all bad. Cities could monitor usage of public transport and traffic to reduce congestion. Parking spaces could be tracked and their status updated to reduce an everyday frustration. There’s even a startup that is trying to reduce hospital infections by monitoring how often staff wash their hands with soap.
For businesses IoT could mean simple time efficiency solutions such as office equipment that automatically reorders supplies that are low in stock, to more complicated analyses knowing where in the supermarket shoppers are most likely to buy the most cookies.
The New Backbone of the Information Age
Before anyone can actually start using all these terabytes of information that will soon be flying around, organizations, including governments, will have to ensure they have appropriate infrastructure that will be able to handle it. Sorting and analyzing the output from billions of devices, and making it relevant for users, is a problem on a scale we have not seen before.
Much of today’s BI software is very slow, providing reports and answers in timeframes of days or even weeks rather than instantaneously. This is not going to cut it in a world where all we will aim to make every business decision a smart one.
Robust business intelligence software will become indispensable. The key will be to find a solution that can both deliver accurate information in a digestible form, as well as one that can combine data from the endless number of connected devices. Specifically this will be no small task. When you have almost every device that’s able to report something, sending you masses of information, all in different forms from different locations, it’s very easy to fall into chaos from all the noise. BI software that take this huge number of data sources and compile it into a single repository that lets users get answers quickly and efficiently will be the only kind to succeed.
There’s no doubt that IoT is becoming a reality, and we can’t let it creep up on us. We have to be prepared to utilize it to its full potential – and basic data discovery tools aren’t going to cut it. Instead we’ll need BI platforms that are powerful enough to handle mind blowing amounts of data, in a way that’s accessible to everyone.