The Right Time and Place: Data’s Enabling Role in Enterprise IoT

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veli-pekka-luoma-headshotIn this special guest feature, Veli-Pekka Luoma, Director of Advanced Analytics for IoT at Comptel, takes a close look at the upward trajectory for the Internet of Things industry and how this new technology opens the door to exciting gains in operational efficiency and service opportunity. Veli-Pekka has the responsibility for connecting Comptel’s superior capabilities in data processing and advanced analytics with Internet of Things (IoT) opportunities.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting technology trends because even the least technically savvy among us can relate to its most intriguing use cases. A home heating system that will tell me when it needs maintenance or repair? Sounds great. A wristband that will report my personal health metrics to my doctors so they can manage my care? Sign me up.

The IoT’s most compelling use case is, at the end of the day, about improving quality of life. From personal health, to transportation, to home security, the IoT appeals to the average consumer not because embedded sensors impress us, but because of the tempting promise of how those sensors could improve our lives.

So, how do enterprises, which are expected to account for 39 percent of the 23 billion IoT devices that will be online by 2019, fulfill the practical promise of the IoT? The answer lies not in what connected devices comprise (sensors) but in what they produce: data.

Timely data. Contextual data. Not data collected in a vacuum and left to sit idle, but rather meaningful bits of information that are understood and acted on when they matter the most (right now) in the place they matter most (right here). For enterprises in the worlds of manufacturing, distribution, transportation and more, the IoT business model depends on optimizing these two dimensions of data.

Getting Closer to the Source

The key to making the most of any operational or service-based enterprise IoT application is to act on data at its peak point of value: the moment it is created. If your vehicle operating system learns about an imminent traffic hazard, you’ll need it to notify the driver immediately, not minutes later.

That means enterprises will need to increase the velocity of data processing. The traditional process, where data is collected in one place, and then processed and analyzed in multiple separate phases, slows things down and is not a sustainable model for the volume and velocity of IoT-produced data.

Instead, data refinement, processing and analysis must move closer to the connected device. Sensor manufacturers are already developing compute capabilities that happen on the device, breaking analytics out of the data center and putting it into the real world. IDC predicts that, by 2018, up to 40 percent of IoT data will be stored, processed, analyzed and acted upon close to, or at the edge of, the network.

That will be crucial for enterprises in both operational applications – providing real-time equipment monitoring, for example – and service-based applications, such as the above connected vehicle example.

In the Moment Analysis and Action

Location is one dimension, time is another. Real-time data processing is what makes data actionable, and it’s achievable not just by changing where the processing occurs, but also changing the very nature of that processing so that it enables in-the-moment analysis and action.

The answer is to lift the burden of analysis off the shoulders of humans and redirect it toward cloud-based advanced analytic systems that are powered by machine learning. Moving at machine speed, these self-learning systems are able to more quickly collect, enrich and analyze crude data from different IoT applications and determine an appropriate follow-up action.

This has the extra benefit of removing the “human error” risk from data analysis, and reducing the chances of business disruption and the potential for fraudulent activity. For businesses that must manage expectations for service level agreements (SLAs), this is an invaluable benefit of the IoT.

Powered by automated, enriched and instant data collection, analysis and follow-through, the IoT promises a world where the technology around us works quietly, efficiently and tirelessly to make our lives better. For enterprises, that opens the door to exciting gains in operational efficiency and service opportunity.


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