Today, you can control the temperature in your house from your office. Your car can update its maps from the garage. You can even boil the kettle for your morning cup of tea before leaving your bed. All this is possible due to the convergence of the internet of things (IoT) and big data. But this is only part of the story. Today, businesses have a huge opportunity to use this technology to make their operations more efficient, productive and streamlined. Because by combining sensors with big data, companies can get real-time information about what is happening, and, even more important, where it’s happening - instead of just estimating what is going to happen.
Once just a product of future gazing, the internet of things is increasingly real. According to analyst firm Gartner, the IoT will comprise 26 billion devices by 2020, up from 900 million in 2009. The idea of connecting big data to the internet of things has the potential to transform not only consumer life but also the world of business. For companies, adding sensors to technology means they no longer have to make estimates but can monitor their processes remotely and arrive at smarter solutions.
Just as social media creates streams of information, IoT creates a continuous flow of data. A primary benefit to this continuity is that organisations can determine trends and patterns and pick up on variances in a process in real-time. For instance, if you put a sensor on a door, it can tell you in real-time how often that room is used. Or if you put one on a machine in a factory, it can monitor how hot the equipment is getting throughout the day. And, over time, the learnings and insights from this data can be accumulated to give an accurate picture of the detailed workings of the business. With the right analysis, companies can then be more efficient about the way they allocate resources and ensure that every penny spent delivers return on investment.
In a digital, increasingly competitive age, it is the small details that can make a big difference. In this environment, behaviour change accurately informed by big data can be the difference between staying afloat and going under. In a study of financial institutions, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School found that 71 percent of companies believe that big data can create a competitive advantage – up from 36 percent two years ago.
Big Data, Big Change
Big data is undoubtedly having a big effect on business. The three key drivers that will determine the success of IoT are likely to be: regulation, consumer interest and its application to the world of business. When applied to a business, IoT can tell when business processes aren’t working and information is not flowing at the right speed or being protected throughout the process. That means it can use big data to warn companies when a product or service is at risk. And that’s important because early detection can be essential to solving an issue before it becomes a real problem.
The leading IoT players will need to work with businesses to fully understand their needs and match them with the right technology. When deciding which processes to analyse, a general rule is that the greater the current uncertainty in outcome, the higher the potential to make cost and efficiency improvements. In particular, companies must identify the best analytics platforms and tools to enable them to acquire the data they need, analyse its meaning and act on it quickly. While the range of options available seems broad, the number of systems that can meet the IoT test is more limited.
The management of information, when driven by IoT analytics tools, can enhance services by uncovering how data is routed, stored and analysed. Lexmark’s MPS Process Analytics is one service that uses data analytics and location services to identify areas for improvement in an organisation’s document management processes. By collecting and analysing printer usage data, the service is able to recognise unusual behaviours, analyse what these mean, and determine how the company can act most effectively on this information. Lexmark consultants can then map out the relevant business processes and provide solutions to streamline these processes and reduce variance.
By analysing data, a company can improve their processes and streamline its workflow to become more efficient. In this way big data is evolving. No longer is it just about the quantity of data captured but more about the capacity to cross-reference it with other information and reach a meaningful outcome. When combined with technology such as the internet of things, big data can minimise inefficiency and maximise return on investment. Connecting the internet of things with big data is helping us truly understand what works in the workplace.