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The 'Internet of things' will mean really, really big data

Bob Violino | July 30, 2013
Bland by name and superficially viewed as gee-whiz technology never to be realized, the IoT (Internet of things) has significant potential to transform business. Early forays into Net-enabling physical objects are already pointing the way.

Acquiring the needed analytics skills to cope with the data deluge is another challenge. Research from Accenture shows that finding top analytics talent to manage massive amounts of data will be difficult in the years ahead. The results of a year-long research project by the firm show that the United States is projected to create nearly 39,000 new jobs for analytics experts through 2015, but will only be able to fill 23 percent of those roles with qualified candidates.

With IoT, basic data analytical skills won't cut it; companies will need people who know analytics and have a solid understanding of what this new data will mean for their specific industry.

"One of the key infrastructures that companies [considering] IoT solutions require is to have a culture of data-driven decision making," Sutaria says. "IoT essentially provides a stream of accurate data from the real world. Converting that data to information, then to knowledge, and finally to wisdom requires traditional analytical skills of the domain where the IoT solution is being deployed."

For example, in the agricultural field a scientist must understand how much irrigation is needed for a crop under various weather conditions. "IoT can provide accurate and automated data collected at very periodic intervals, of the weather, farm, and individual crop conditions," Sutaria says. "But once the data is collected, the actions that need to be taken based on the data is dependent on the domain-specific scientists."

Along with the growing volumes of data and analysis needed, companies must be prepared for "an onslaught of devices that connect consumers and objects anywhere, anytime," Redding says. "Those that adopt the data supply-chain philosophy will surf this wave of information without drowning in the details."

Additional common barriers to adoption of IoT technologies will include the investment needed in sensors and analytics capabilities and support, such as data security, Miles says.

The future of IoT

As IoT becomes mainstream, it will likely play a huge role in areas such as supply chain management. According to Gartner, "the movement of smart goods can transform a logistics operation into a smart supply chain."

OEMs selling new Internet-connected smart goods and devices will see their supply chains evolve, Gartner claims. A physical supply chain that ordinarily stops once goods are shipped will be extended by a digital supply chain in which monitoring services, content, updates, and other services will be provided.

"Businesses have a tremendous opportunity to use IoT to fill in corporate blind spots to provide just-in-time goods and services," Redding says. "When customers' preferences or needs can be tracked in real time, businesses have the opportunity to react accordingly and immediately, with options such as dynamic messaging, pricing, or service delivery."


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