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Believe it or not, IoT is, at its core, a fairly simple concept. Basically, what it boils down to is that we’re making our products smarter. We’re embedding Internet-enabled computer chips and sensors in products and devices that traditionally had little to no computing capacity – everything from watches to car engines to generators.
Those embedded chips tend to be a little bit more limited than your run-of-the-mill PC or mobile device; usually, they’re used primarily for data-gathering, offering an enterprise details on everything from how efficiently their machines are running to the purchasing habits of their consumers. Not surprisingly, this is forcing something of a revolution in terms of Enterprise IT – both in terms of consumer products and in terms of internal technology.
“Smart, connected products require that companies build an entirely new technology infrastructure, consisting of a series of layers known as a ‘technology stack,’” explains Michael E. Porter of the Harvard Business Review. “This includes modified hardware, software applications, and an operating system embedded into the product itself; network communications to support connectivity; and a product cloud containing the product-driven database, a platform for building software applications, a rules engine and analytics platform, and smart product applications that are not embedded in the product.”
“Cutting across all the layers,” he continues, “is an identity and security structure, a gateway for accessing internal data, and tools that connect the data from smart, connected products to other business systems.”
There’s a reason more enterprises aren’t already tapping into IoT. At this moment in time, to gain any value from the technology would require resources that all but the largest of enterprises are incapable of providing.
Still, there’s a great deal of value to be had from connected products – Porter lists control, optimization, monitoring, and autonomy as just a few of the things the IoT is capable of providing. He goes on to establish that the trend, once it gains further prominence, will serve to significantly increase the bargaining power of both suppliers and buyers, while driving competition to an all-time high.
The benefits within enterprise are just as compelling.
"IoT technologies allow for real-time and accurate data sensing and wireless transmission of that data to Web applications and servers connected to the Internet," explains Mindtree researcher Ronak Sutaria, talking to Infoworld. "This leads to a more precise and accurate monitoring and control of physical systems."
In other words, it’s going to change the market in the same way as every truly disruptive technology before it – those who can adapt to it will thrive, and those who can’t, well…
How IoT Will Drive Big Data Adoption
The significant increase in connected devices that’s due to happen at the hands of the Internet of Things will, in turn, lead to an exponential increase in the data that an enterprise is required to manage. Here’s where IoT intersects wonderfully with big data – and where it becomes evident that the two trends fit one another like a glove.
“Once the Internet of things gets rolling, stand back,” warns Howard Baldwin, writing for Forbes. “We’re going to have data spewing at us from all directions - from appliances, from machinery, from train tracks, from shipping containers, from power stations. If that doesn’t get you thinking how to handle real-time data feeds, nothing will.”
“But here’s a suggestion,” he adds. “Start now.”
Fact is: the Internet of Things is still in its infancy. It hasn’t started to produce an overwhelming deluge of information. But that doesn’t mean it won’t.
Big Data, on the other hand, has been around for a while; long enough that it’s starting to come into its own. Analytics tools designed to handle large, fast-changing volumes of information are gradually becoming accessible to small and midsized organizations, while data science is looked upon as a legitimate and highly-valued- field of study. In short, for most businesses, the timing has never been better to look into the adoption of a big data strategy.
IoT Needs Big Data
While larger enterprises like Coca-Cola, General Electric, and Domino’s Pizza have managed to tap into its value, most businesses will have to wait some time before they can really enjoy the advantages of embedded sensor technology. In the meantime, it’s imperative that those businesses prepare by adopting a big data strategy - and looking into analytics technology.
Big Data capacity is, in essence, a prerequisite to tapping into the Internet of Things. Without the proper data-gathering in place, it’ll be impossible for businesses to sort through all the information flowing in from embedded sensors. What that means is that, without Big Data, the Internet of Things can offer an enterprise little more than noise.
About the author
Will Hayles is a technical writer and blogger for Outscale, a leading cloud hosting provider in the USA and France.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.