As the collectors of actionable input information, networked smart devices with embedded sensors, software and electronics are a key driving force behind the Internet of Things (IoT).
However, they do not generate value for organizations on their own. Powerful, fast database technologies are required to create meaningful insight from the connected devices that are generating Big Data. When used correctly, the opportunities smart devices and the IoT present across sectors can be ground-breaking and deliver a real competitive advantage.
- Opportunities in every sector
The financial services sector is a well-known example of where Big Data is already having a significant impact. The move from people-driven to algorithmic trading is just one illustration of this. But, the technology that enabled this shift holds the potential to significantly benefit a myriad of industries. First movers across numerous sectors have already woken up to the potential, and it won’t be long before smart devices and the IoT become standard practice across every area of business.
A number of industry leading healthcare firms, for example, have already begun testing embedded devices to collect health metrics like electrocardiogram (ECG) movements and blood pressure readings, to deliver proactive healthcare. And in manufacturing, major companies are not just purchasing new equipment with IoT sensors pre-installed but are retrofitting them in existing factories in order to improve operational efficiency and productivity. Electricity grid operators and utilities too are looking to make use of smart devices for measuring and communicating electricity use, to improve billing, generation and reliability.
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As these cases demonstrate, this new era of connected devices gives companies more detailed operational data which in turn can be used to gain actionable insights that were previously not possible.
- Database technologies for real-time insights
In practice, the rise of the use of smart sensors and the IoT across industries means that the amount of data to be processed will increase exponentially. In the Utility sector alone, we estimate that by 2025, companies could be receiving around 900 times more data than they do today. These massive volumes of data generated by IoT devices cannot be ingested by traditional solutions, and as such are beyond their scope to process.
This is where combined in-memory and on-disk database systems become key to the successful application of the IoT. Not only do these solutions have stream processing capabilities, allowing them to analyse very large quantities of data in-flight, they can also leverage historical data for real-time analytics. Some also offer support for time series, a feature which whilst rare, is very relevant for many IoT applications, such as preventative maintenance, where large quantities of data need to be collected at regular intervals for instant analysis. Combining IoT outputs with software that can analyze real time and historical data quickly can literally transform a business.
- Upgrade path for sensor analytics in the IoT
Whilst the potential for using database technologies to make sense of the data collected by smart devices is clear, it’s worth considering how industries can leverage the opportunities whilst protecting the investments they have already made in their systems’ infrastructure.
Installing an IoT-optimized database platform is one of the best ways to simplify the upgrade path to powerful sensor IoT analytics.
It’s important to bear in mind that any new technology will need to interface seamlessly with the existing platform to have minimal impact on operations. So, as well as the creation of a historical database, there should be careful planning around how the new technology can be used to bolster existing systems.
Whilst introducing new real-time visualization and analytic tools, the requirements of business users in the organization also need to be kept front and center to ensure they are receiving maximum value from the investment. Looking for technology that is scalable, does not require a large investment in hardware, is relatively simple to maintain, performs extremely well and is highly available will pay dividends in the long term.
With more than 100 billion IoT connected devices projected to be installed by 2025, the speed of adoption of these and related technologies is increasing rapidly. What’s more, according to ABI Research, the addressable market for analytics and other value-added services for the industrial IoT is expected to reach $120 billion by 2018. Clearly, the time to start adopting and implementing sensor technologies is now.