This is the first article in a series focusing on a technology that is rising in importance to enterprise use of big data – IoT Analytics, or the analytical component of the Internet-of-Things. In this first segment, we’ll set the stage for our discussion by providing an overview of the Internet-of-Things.
Internet of Things – An Overview
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging theme with wide technical, social, and economic significance. Consumer products, durable goods, automobiles, industrial equipment, utilities, various sensors, and other everyday devices are being combined with Internet connectivity and powerful analytics capabilities that promise to be transformative in terms of the way we live, work, and play. Projections for the impact of IoT on the economy and the Internet are extraordinary, with some industry analysts projecting as many as 100 billion connected IoT devices and a global economic impact of more than $11 trillion by 2025. At the same time, the widespread adoption of IoT technology raises significant challenges that could stand in the way of realizing its potential benefits. News headlines about the hacking of Internet-connected devices, surveillance concerns, and privacy fears already have captured the public’s attention. Technical challenges remain and new policy, legal and development challenges are emerging.
The term “Internet of Things” was first used in 1999 by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton to describe a system in which objects in the physical world could be connected to the Internet by sensors. Ashton coined the term to illustrate the power of connecting Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags used in corporate supply chains to the Internet in order to count and track goods without the need for human intervention. Today, IoT has become a popular term for describing scenarios in which Internet connectivity and computing capability extend to a variety of objects, devices, sensors, and everyday items.
The goal for this technology series is to help enterprise thought leaders navigate the dialogue surrounding IoT in light of the competing predictions about its promises and perils. IoT engages a broad set of ideas that are complex and intertwined from different perspectives – value drivers and ROI, challenges of deploying IoT analytics, case studies, and best practices.
The Beginnings of IoT
The genesis of IoT was when the technology discussion turned from talking about just one particular device with a sensor to systems of sensors and systems of devices. This pivot presents a very large opportunity. Like “Big Data” during its early stages, most IoT vendors have focused on the connectivity, data ingestion, and generic analysis platforms. But now, we’re seeing both an IoT macro view and also micro view, ranging from large entities such as cities, and entire enterprises, going down to buildings, stores, factories, hospitals, campuses, and continuing down to industrial and commercial assets like tractors and/or power plants, assets within the home like appliances, and then finally down to personal assets like a mobile device or a wearable.
A recent Forrester industry survey found that there are 82% of enterprises interested in IoT. 23% of enterprises say they’re using some form of IoT solution or application. 29% are planning and 30% are interested. Many people think IoT is early, and it is early, but it’s also underway as well. Even though IoT is underway, companies still struggle with understanding how to implement it, what technologies needed, and especially what are the potential use cases.
Across all industries there’s a tremendous interest in IoT applications and solutions. When you cut this interest worldwide, it becomes a global phenomenon. There are many existing applications and solutions that have been re-categorized as IoT. For example, if you see an oil & gas system that was developed ten years ago that uses sensors and devices, now it’s being classified as an IoT application. From the technology vendor point of view, they can look through their portfolio for customer use cases, and come to the conclusion they have a lot of IoT customer references. IoT becomes part of all applications at some point.
Contributed by Daniel D. Gutierrez, Managing Editor of insideBIGDATA. In addition to being a tech journalist, Daniel also is a practicing data scientist, author, educator and sits on a number of advisory boards for various start-up companies.
Sign up for the free insideBIGDATA newsletter.