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The Internet Of Things Will Generate Terabytes Of Data. What Will We Do With All Of It?

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In less than 5 years, “the Internet of Things will transform the data center,” says Gartner. This transformation is predicted to trickle across industries and affect business models, how we market products and even inspire new technology developments. With a sensor on absolutely everything – from cars and houses to your family members – it goes without saying there will be some challenges with these massive amounts of data. Furthermore, there is a lot of uncertainties associated with IoT because of this data. Is it even useful? How do we use it? And, one of the more important questions, how secure is the data in the cloud anyway? Fortunately, developing management tools to hone all of this data have helped to answer several of these questions.

Data mining for faster interactions between a smart object and its user

First, it is important to understand what data mining really means. By definition, data mining, or knowledge discovery, is the process of analyzing large sets or databases of information. To put this into perspective, imagine that you have a cabin in the mountains, and you want to put sensors in this cabin to tell you the temperature every 6 hours. Now imagine you are the owner of a vacation home renting association, and these sensors are in hundreds of homes which you are responsible for overseeing. Hundreds or even thousands of homes generating data every 6 hours. A helpful blog post describes how this information gets to be useful once you can identify patterns and trends in your data, which may help you save money or uncover an issue. Comparing values against one another at different times they are collected (or at different locations) is one way to do this. As the owner of so many vacation homes, you can gain insight into why certain cabins may be too hot or too cool to identify an issue in your heating and cooling systems before your guests complain.

Second, let’s consider “real-time.” Accessing this data in real-time will make all the difference for mission critical applications. Let’s go back to the cabin example. If your cabin is not ready for winter, wouldn’t it be great to access an alert in real-time so that you can avoid a pipe bursting? IoT applications like this require real-time data. In fact, most IoT applications are not even considered to be “IoT” unless they include some kind of mobile app or dashboard not only offering real-time data, but also real-time analytics tools. It may be noteworthy to point out that “real-time” means something different in every application. In an “Emergency! Call 9-1-1!” scenario, real-time must be instantaneous – as in less than a millisecond. While other applications, such as remote tank monitoring, may take several seconds. The level of urgency will determine how much the application developer will invest in high-speed technology (whether it be cellular 2G vs. LTE or Bluetooth vs. WiFi).

IoT is changing how we analyze data

To keep up with the IoT boom, we need to make sense of person-to-smart-object interactions as fast as possible so we can learn, adjust, and continue to add value to our connected lives. Leveraging historical IoT data is key for identifying behavior patterns that may reveal ways to save money on applications, increase efficiency, and simply make our lives easier. Being able to analyze and sort data as it is being generated is no longer a vision. Huge amounts of data will be analyzed “in the cloud” or on IoT devices as events occur. IoT businesses have to adopt trends like these to stay competitive. After all, IoT isn’t just about connecting things to the internet; it’s about generating meaningful data.

Gaining actionable insights from data

With all of the connected cars, houses, watches, health monitoring devices, trackers, etc., there will be an unfathomable amount of data on the table. Now what? Because so many things are being connected to the internet, collecting insights that guide you on your next business move are key. In fact, Fabrizio Biscotti, research director at Gartner argues, “IoT deployments will generate large quantities of data that need to be processed and analyzed in real time. Processing large quantities of IoT data in real time will increase as a proportion of workloads of data centers, leaving providers facing new security, capacity and analytics challenges.” This is clear to everyone in IoT: Interpreting these terabytes and terabytes of data will be a nightmare. And doing it in a timely manner, dare I say it – in real-time – will be absolute hell. Businesses need tools to help them make smart business decisions with this IoT data. Doug Strick, Internet Application Admin at Garmin, admitted, “We knew we needed a tool that could constantly monitor our production environment, allowing us to collect historical data and trend performance over time. Also, we needed something that would give us a better view of what was going on inside the application at the code level.” Garmin is definitely not the only business out there with these needs.

Just looking at all of the data being generated from one application can be overwhelming. The daunting task of analyzing this data could take anywhere from days to weeks. Even worse, many people are stuck with tools that are cumbersome to use. This not only slows down business, but it opens the door to potential pitfalls and issues. So the questions remain, how do we relate business to performance, and how do we get that answer in a timely manner? There are some tools that exist today. For example, AppDynamics offers an analytics platform that allows users to take data from their IoT applications and manipulate it — in real time — to produce visualizations and reports. The ability to go from raw data to useful business data, and to produce a report in less than 5 minutes completely eliminates the time-consuming process of data analysis.

Being in IoT is a race, not a marathon!

That might sound backwards, but anyone in the IoT space would agree – it’s a race to productization and deployment. Understanding data and applying it to your business can take careful planning and time that you likely don’t have. Businesses are preparing themselves for the reality of IoT – or catching up to the competition who are already working with IoT driven data. That preparation will include an investment in data management tools to make the most of an IoT strategy. Harbor Research predicts that if you have connected products with no long-term data services strategy, then “you’re in the Pervasive Internet of Things booster rocket… when the booster runs out of fuel (product-centric profits), you’ll fall back to Earth. And that’s going to hurt.” Learn more about how IoT is changing how we live and take care of business, check out my previous blog post. Next time we will discuss how the Internet of Things is enhancing experiences everyday in smart cities. Stay tuned!

Elle (Elizabeth) Grossenbacher

Mrs. Grossenbacher has served as a speaker at notable conferences including the Internet of Things (IoT) Expo and Moderator of the Silicon Valley IoT Symposium. Additionally, she has contributed to the growth and development of several communities within the Internet of Things space, including IoT Silicon Valley meetup group, the Wireless Communications Alliance, and offers 7+ years of experience in the high tech world. She holds a B.A, in Psychology, a B.A. in Design, and an MBA from the University of California, Davis.