The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to comprise more than 21bn objects by 2020, the sum total of which will produce a great deal of data. Darren Cooper, Director of Industry Solutions, Europe, Stibo Systems looks at the the importance of identifying objects and where they are in the IoT, and the value and opportunities that comes from connecting the data they produce.
Airlines face significant costs in aircraft operations, baggage handling and additional security checks as a result of late boarding passengers. Indeed, passengers arriving late for their flights costs London Heathrow £3.5m a year alone.
When faced with such potentially unnecessary expense, it’s perhaps worth considering what can be done to help locate these passengers. If and when they can be located, further consideration should be given to what additional services they could be presented with to help them make more of what the airport has to offer, while ensuring they get to their flight in good time.
While the idea of proposing location-based services is nothing new, the recent proliferation of sensors and smart devices offers huge potential for supporting new and innovative customer services. What’s required is a means of connecting the information from these, and other data-producing hardware, to location and customer information.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is, as we know, made up of physical and connected objects, all of which generate data. And with analysts predicting more than 21 billion of these objects by 2020, there will soon be a lot more data being produced.
By way of illustrating its importance, the growth rates for software, services and infrastructure designed for the IoT is predicted to exceed a CAGR of 25 percent, and some companies have already begun to set up their own organisational divisions solely dedicated to the IoT.
However, it’s worth noting that those who most influence an organisation’s IoT strategy are more likely to be from an operational background rather than the usual IT decision makers.
Many businesses will need to develop a strategy to enable them to not only collect and manage the data generated by the IoT but also to consider that data’s benefit to the business itself.
Use cases include predictive maintenance to save money and avoid unnecessary equipment failures; using smart meters to offer new services to home owners; and delivering features to improve the safety and comfort of drivers of connected cars.
Collecting and joining together data from a range of devices including GPS, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), CCTV, Wi-Fi, and fire sensors can be used to improve passenger communication and safety on public transport systems.
Elsewhere, IoT-enabled, non-invasive observation of patients is revolutionising clinical trials and remote health monitoring. Some forward-thinking companies, such as Apple, have already spotted the opportunity offered by collecting such information and have created a “research kit” providing the features necessary to detect and report medical conditions to researchers.
And it’s been suggested that, by 2020, one in every 100 livestock animals could be connected to the IoT, to monitor the number of cows being vaccinated, for example, or being called to milking. By the same year, it’s also been predicted that the number of sensors needed to support the oil and gas industry will have tripled.
Mastering the data
While the opportunity to support customer services and generate revenue from the IoT in this way is undeniably huge, it is still very much in the research phase for a number of companies. Many banks, for example, may currently be considering how this technology can be used to develop new levels of relationships with their customers, while telecom network operators are looking for the best way to develop new services that support these initiatives and revenue streams.
The IoT is already a reality for many companies, it is just called something else. Until now, it may simply have been a network made up of objects such as a smartphone, a pump sensor, or even railway signal panel number 34.
Before addressing the challenge of knowing how to connect these objects together to derive value, comes the more fundamental challenge of actually identifying what these objects are and where they’re located.
Like an organisation’s customers, the objects that make up the IoT have their own unique identity and set of characteristics that help the organisation to describe, organise and understand them.
Multi-domain Master Data Management (MDM) technology is an ideal means of referencing these objects, and to link them to other types – or domains – of data, such as that on an organisation’s customers, locations, assets, products and employees.
MDM is based on the principle of making an organisation’s master data – in this case, the data generated by the various connected objects – available and accessible to all of the systems and people that need it, within the organisation itself and beyond.
The definition and implementation of information governance policies for the IoT objects will then ensure that the information is correctly defined, is of useful quality, and has the appropriate permissions and levels of security for its access.
Companies should give special consideration to this last point – security – as they build their business use cases around the IoT. After all, sharing their personal information with the airport gift shop might be a small price to pay for getting passengers to their plane on time.
By Darren Cooper
Director of Industry Solutions, Europe