Updated: Sep 10, 2018
Contextualizing the promise of Big Data, this new trend around our evermore connected devices, the Internet of Things, is expected to become big business. Support for this up and coming market will need cooperation across enterprise and consumer markets, bridging the mechanized systems and the individual experiences they power. The Internet of Things is a market largely untapped, and we're poised to become a decisive and dominant player in the Internet of Things and Big Data analytics ecosystems of the future.
In essence, the internet of things consists of globally networked computer processor powered devices (such as smart phones, automobiles and household appliances) talking directly to each other without human interaction. Steadily lowering internet costs means that these device-to-device communications are expected to grow more rapidly and quickly overtake human internet communication. Big data is a term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set.
The question I've been asking for a while now is what does big data have to do with the Internet of Things? I now know the answer. Lots! In the recent NY Times article The Age of Big Data, the Internet of Things is mentioned as playing a major contributing role in Big Data. There is a lot more data, all the time, growing at 50 percent a year, or more than doubling every two years, estimates the technology research firm IDC. All this data is the foundation for intelligent decision making. And it's not just more streams of data, but entirely new ones. The internet of things will also give rise to new types of data, emerging for instance from the collection of sensor data and the control of actuators.
There are now countless digital sensors worldwide in industrial equipment, automobiles, electrical meters and shipping crates. They can measure and communicate location, movement, vibration, temperature, humidity, even chemical changes in the air. Link these communicating sensors to computing intelligence and you see the rise of what is called the Internet of Things or the Industrial Internet. Another way to look at it is without the data all the things you see labelled as Smart really don't have much information to figure out what the smart thing to do is. The kind of smart products associated with the internet of things call for complicated logic in relation to security and data privacy as well as interaction and flexibility.
At the present time, many companies are trying really hard to figure out just what they can do with all their big data. But very soon we'll be helping these same companies figure out how to make the smartest decisions by providing powerful yet easy to use tools to help them discover more things about their data and to deal with some very complex challenges.
The Internet of Things means more sensors and devices, and thus more data-where does security lie at the data movement, access and storage level? The data on the usage of things and the associated services are extremely sensitive, comparable, say, to the sensitivity of data currently exchanged between the bank and user over the internet with online banking. But far worse than this is the case today. Unauthorized access in the internet of things will not only lead to potentially confidential information being divulged, it might also result in the owner or authorized user losing control of their things in the physical world.
While certain people assume that the aforementioned scenarios need to be protected by contracts developed and regulated by certain communities (similar to the mechanisms with software licenses), others assume that data privacy and security can only be implemented through active design decisions during software and system development. The ideas put forward by advocates of the Industry 4.0 initiative involve nothing less than a complete upgrade of software and hardware and digital networking of production plant.
One example from the automotive industry might look like this: A car is made up of around 10,000 to 12,000 individual components on average, with just a fraction of these manufactured by the automaker itself. Once the suppliers and the necessary aspects of the production planning have been established, the car multimedia system (in other words the provisional seed of the car) sends a corresponding order to each supplier. The car multimedia system must now forward the received feedback to assembly planning so that the car is scheduled firmly in production or (if necessary) can be rescheduled. In this example, the raw-materials supplier for the tyre manufacturer could provide frequent feedback, which leads to a rescheduling of production at the tyre manufacturer and also, in turn, at the manufacturer.
What might big data and the internet of everything mean for you and me? Here's another example. You're browsing your favourite food blog with your smartphone. After reading about a particularly tasty recipe, you send a request to your fridge, which puts together a shopping list, and directly pre-orders a few items in the supermarket so that nobody can snap up those essential ingredients before you get there. While you're at it, you also send a request to your home entertainment system, selecting two episodes of your children's favourite TV series which is then downloaded to your car's multimedia system so you can keep them occupied after you've picked them up from school.
You will be forgiven for asking whether we actually need refrigerators to communicate with cell phones and supermarkets, or whether the home entertainment system should control children's' television habits!
According to Gaurav Dhillon, founder and CEO of SnapLogic, when the internet of things comes to fruition, the economics of big data analytics will start to pay off. These things cost hundreds of millions of dollars and this sensor looks at the temperature in the infrared spectrum and today just provides a cable feed-back to some guy in a baseball cap who watches it said Dhillon.
We might postulate that the internet of things is depicting an emerging reality-merging sensor and actuator data and computing intelligence (underpinned by protection and security). This is the crux of the internet of things that it will ultimately shape an emerging reality and transform many socio-economic, political aspects of our world. Applying the right analytics to the right data, and also ensuring that machine learning data can interoperate with higher level data from CRM and social media platforms, is where the real big data payoff begins.