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On this blog, we first wrote about the Internet of Things (IoT) in the blog post entitled “Innovation Management: Keeping Up with the Digital World.” If you haven’t read it, here’s a quick recap:
- Even though the term Internet of Things has been around for over 15 years, the term is still not particularly well-defined or well-understood. A simplistic definition is: connecting a device with an on/off switch to the Internet. The Online Oxford Dictionary also gives a nice, concise definition: “The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.”
- Right now, the Internet of Things, which connects the Internet to everyday things and devices, is emerging as the third wave in the development of Internet. The analysts at Gartner, Inc. forecast that 4.9 billion connected things will be in use in 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and will reach 25 billion by 2020.
- Popular examples of things that can be categorized under the IoT umbrella include the Apple Watch and the wearable fitness tracker Fitbit.
Big Data = Big Opportunity
In the previous IoT blog, we wrote: “We are at the precipice of a monumental change and entering a new era of connectivity. IoT will be likely be a transformational trend well into the next decade. Your companies’ ability to adapt, innovate, and thrive in this ambitious new time will determine who tomorrow’s winners and laggards will be. Innovate or die.” However, opportunities for innovation go beyond innovating “things” (new types of intelligent devices) for the IoT.
If your business is looking for ways on how to be innovative in the IoT era, “big data” may be the answer. Big data is a term that refers to the large amount of both structured and unstructured data that constantly inundates businesses. There is already a massive amount of data feeding off the IoT. And if the IoT takes off as predicted in the next few years (according to some of the best-known figured provided by Cisco, “We expect the number of connected objects to reach 50bn by 2020 (2.7% of things in the world)), we will be absolutely overwhelmed by data coming at us from all directions—there will be data spewing out of home appliances, traffic lights, wearables, power stations, and more.
But it’s not the amount of data that important. Rather, the value lies in what your business does with the data as big data can be analyzed to make better strategic moves and help with business decision making. Analyzing big data can lead to answers that will help your business find cost and time reductions, provided optimized offerings, and facilitate new product development strategies. For example, when you use high-powered analytics to interpret big data, your business can easily and quickly recalculate its risk portfolio, offer personalized coupons to customers at the point of sale, detect fraudulent activity before it hurts your business, and determine the cause of failures and defects in close to real-time, just to name a few.
If you’re in the tech industry, big data analytics can be a rich source for innovation. For example, as discussed in CompTIA’s research brief on Sizing Up the Internet of Things, IoT has led to vehicle sensors, intelligent infrastructure devices, and social streams, which all can be combined to provide a picture of traffic flow and help alleviate congested areas. Collecting the data and performing analytics from these Internet-connected devices to inform nearly real-time solutions shows the need for big data analytics in the IoT world. An example of a company taking advantage of the innovation opportunities surrounding the big data aspect of IoT is software developer SQLstream’s SmartCity StreamApp. The SmartCity StreamApp is not a new intelligent device for IoT but rather a data management application that “brings together data from intelligent devices in a useful way.”
How will your company take advantage of the innovation opportunities associated with big data and the IoT?
For more information on how to promote and implement innovation within your company, check out the innovation books Robert’s Rules of Innovation: A 10-Step Program for Corporate Survival and Robert’s Rules of Innovation II: The Art of Implementation (available December 8, 2015 on both Amazon.com and at selected bookstores; to pre-order today, see Amazon).