Connecting the Digital Universe to the Internet of Things for Better Business Outcomes

Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President of Research at the International Data Corporation captures his thoughts on the Internet of Things; it makes for a future of rich business value.


Five years ago, we probably would have wondered what the Internet Of Things (IoT) really was. Truth be told, at that time not a lot could be said about it. However, the maturity of key technologies such as cloud, big data, mobility and social, combined with readily available network connectivity, really did accelerate the IoT into both our commercial and private worlds.

The Internet of Things has brought the industrial world of embedded data, created through machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity, into new environments whereby business units can finally get access to the content created on factory floors, buildings, utilities, etc. For example, this rich content has always been there, but analysis of the data was seldom performed to look for trends across the factory floor, to the supply chain, to customer satisfaction, to product development, and to competitor analysis. However, what’s novel about M2M — beyond encompassing traditional, fixed-function embedded, and highly intelligent systems — is that human beings are removed from the connection. We continue to see a large base of fragmented vertical industries transform into interconnected and vibrant markets that leverage similar feature sets and user interfaces of computing systems connected by heterogeneous networks, sensors, and a growing appetite for large sets of data.

Now if we add a human aspect to this world, whereby sensors extend into the everyday fabric of our lives, then suddenly we are faced with a deluge of new content created. This data from the IoT has characteristics based on both location and connectivity, but also has attributes or features made up of structured or unstructured data formats and unpredictable file sizes, fed by video, audio, temperature, and contextual data. By 2020, IDC predicts that there will be 32 billion sensors or devices creating data that will need real-time analytics to turn that data into valuable, rich business.

However, most of this content will be created outside the traditional IT or enterprise-based datacenters and processing platforms, and therefore will require a new approach. IT departments will have to decide whether it’s better to process the content at the point of creation (or at the edge of the network), or inside the enterprise (or at steps in between). Key to the decision of where the data computation takes place is the capability of a software-defined environment, where storage software applications will find the digital content and process the data into business information. This new approach will still support all the storage management and storage services currently delivered within the enterprise.

Businesses that have laid out a framework integrating cloud, big data, and mobile strategies are already ahead of much of their competition. They have the ability to process IoT-generated content with its traditional Digital Universe content to deliver better outcomes. For example, these businesses will be able to transform their supply chains simply because they have an end-to-end view of their product life cycle. Hospitals will begin to merge data from human-based wearable sensors with diagnosis and prescriptions to create better healthcare. Finally, those who unlock the value of the IoT using a software-defined infrastructure will establish a competitive lead that starts within themselves as they begin to innovate across their company.

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