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Three steps for capitalizing on the IoT

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Businesses are betting on the Internet of Things (IoT) by installing a few billion sensors, handheld devices and monitoring systems this year. While this is a big number, that’s not the big story. Because when it comes to the IoT, the things are cool but the data is golden.

We are in the age of what my friend George Rockett of Datacenter Dynamics (DCD) calls the “Zettastructure,” the layers of infrastructure that support the digital world. So, how will you handle your portion of the Zettastructure? More important, how can your business capitalize on it?

A plan to handle your data

I suggest you take a three-point approach to your enterprise’s situation.

1. Determine what type of data you have

Many industries have massive files stretching terabytes in size or even approaching the petabyte range. Such files are found in meteorology, epidemiology, oil and gas exploration and astronomy. I think of this as “traditional big data.”

Now, imagine a thousand sensors each sending a 10K signal every 10 seconds. This adds up to 60 megabytes of data per minute, or more than 31 terabytes in a year. I refer to this type of data as “little big data.”

Your data analysis is going to differ depending on what type of data you have.

Traditional big data files have been in use for a while. The difference today is the ability to attach large systems as things in an IoT deployment and analyze these files more quickly and effectively.

Little big data, on the other hand, is a new phenomenon. With it, you can glean operational insights that simply weren’t available before. The opportunity to turn these insights into data products and new services based on the data is enormous.

2. Find the gold

This opportunity to find value in your data is especially true with little big data, much of which you won’t want to keep. What’s a single 10K status signal from an electric meter worth? Why spend time and money archiving it? The value — the gold — is found within the analytics you bring to bear. You may find your actual storage needs encompass perhaps 1 percent of the data you process.

With traditional big data, there is often a legal obligation to store all of your massive files. In this case, you can mine gold by analyzing those files to uncover rare patterns that were previously thought to be anomalies: for example, an improbable but predictable medical condition. This can be lifesaving stuff!

3. Generate revenue

It’s past time to think of your IT — or IoT — as a revenue and profits generator rather than simply a cost center. Instead, realize the insights you are now capturing through your IoT deployment have their own value when developed into new products and services.

For example, I’m doing work with a Calgary-based company that developed a way to pull large, visual data files from existing systems and share them with “things” such as smartphones, tablets, notebooks and desktop systems.

The files in this IoT deployment are shared simultaneously in real time and have acquired new value. This company’s customers in healthcare and energy can now easily provide access to their own customers using new revenue-generating services.

Meanwhile, sensors are being deployed in new IoT initiatives involving “smart” grids. The detailed information these initiatives can produce, such as electricity usage, traffic patterns or the customer ebb and flow at shopping centers, has a resale value to companies who need to know all they can about how consumers move and act.

Looking to extract data from your existing IoT apps? The IBM Connect series makes it quick and easy for you to connect to and from the cloud to capitalize fully on your existing skills and applications. Learn more by clicking here.

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